Veronica Gonzalez Peña

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twin time: or, how death befell me


Semiotext(e) / Native Agents, 2007

Semiotext(e) - Amazon - Powell's Books

Poetic, sensuous and witty, Veronica Gonzalez Peña's debut novel unfolds like a fairy tale spanning the dusty hills of Los Angeles and the glittering nightlife of Mexico City. Raised in northeast LA by her widowed immigrant father, a baker, Mona has grown up believing her mother died minutes after her birth, and her twin brother was simply given away. Stifled by unnameable doubts as a child, when her father dies, Mona sets off on a quest to discover her long-lost twin brother. The journey takes her into the labyrinth of her own fabulations about her parents’ lives, and a dreamy Mexico City that exists only as cultural imagination. In the process she encounters a band of Nordic men, her Chinese double, a lascivious giant, and a tribe of feral children. Gonzalez masterfully probes the oddness of Mona’s interior world until it becomes a twisted parable for all kinds of displacement.

"I loved the fabric of this book; the rhythm was palpable. The forces swirling in and around the young girl and the estranged and luscious descriptions of nature and mating and storytelling and dreams were told so silently. It was like being in an aquarium looking out somehow."
- Eileen Myles, The Believer

"In Veronica Gonzalez's lush and layered debut, Twin Time: or, How Death Befell Me (Semiotexte), a beautiful Mexican teenager flees Mexico City with a baker she hardly knows because he can make tiny mice out of chocolate and marzipan, and molasses cookies in the shape of little licking cats. A year and a half later, when her twins turn 1, she moves to London with a philandering hairdresser, taking the boy with her, leaving the girl, Mona, behind. Twenty-eight years later, upon the baker's death, Mona loses herself in a forest of mind, memory, and imagination, a fabulist labyrinth populated by bands of marauding Nordic men who insist that she make them fajitas, a Chinese goddess who wears red shoes, a lascivious, truth-telling giant, and a tribe of the feral children her mother might have had. 'Maybe there are lots of different ways to know the world,' Mona realizes upon returning. 'Maybe the stories and dreams and make-believe help us with our facts. Maybe we all move between these different ways of knowing every day, constantly, within the measure of an instant sometimes: from dream to metaphor to myth to story...all the other tools which we can muster together to help us stay alive."
- Pam Houston, Oprah Magazine

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