Monday Night Book Discussions
"THE TORTILLA CURTAIN"
(written by T. C. Boyle)
Salina Public Library
© Lydia Lowe 9/10/2012
The Tortilla Curtain . . . after reading this book, I went to Goodreads and read the reviews. I spent a lot of time wondering what the author was trying to convey with this book. Was it the social conditions that both the couples in the book faced, was this a commentary on illegal immigration, was this about environmental destruction, hatred/fear of those whom are foreign to you, an expose of poverty in America, or was it relationships between men and women? I never really figured out the answer to my questions.
I think the thing that resonated with me was the relationship between Candido and America (his common law wife). Candido brings America to the U.S. to a better life, or so he paints the picture for her of what life will be like. She believes him and comes with him to the U.S. where nothing is like he told her it would be. She has a neverending series of misfortunes, that had she stayed in Mexico would have not occurred. She's lied to from the very beginning and at one point she makes the remark that their life is "an ongoing catastrophe". I feel deeply for America and Candido has got to be the dumbest man alive. He seems so blind to what is going on around him, unable to focus or even see the reality of the situation.
Then there's Delaney and Kyra. This is a couple that know little about one another and who are operating in their own orbits, doing very different things, sharing the most superficial parts of their days with each other. I wonder what's the point of an exsistence like this? They don't seem to connect deeply on any level, they're just together so that they aren't alone. Their lives are ordered and comfortable, unlike the hardscrabble existence of Candido and America. Nothing much happens to them so they "invent" drama, to color their days. The graffiti incident comes to mind.
The fact that this book generated more questions than it ever answered, kept me asking questions about what the author was trying to convey with this book, and finally just lulled me into finishing the book with my mind blank, just taking the story as it came; I would consider this book a work of art. Whatever baggage the reader brings with them to this book, is what the reader will get out of it. Truly that makes a work of art.