Position:Book review

**** Cellophane By Marie Arana Passion and transformation in the Peruvian rain forest.

Don Victor Sobrevilla and his wife, Dona Mariana, venture into the Peruvian rain forest during the Great Depression, searching for a location for a papermaking factory. Obsessed with paper of all kinds, Don Victor accomplishes his greatest feat with the invention of cellophane, "as diaphanous as Fata Morgana's veil," in 1952. The real story here is the "plague of truth" that descends afterward upon the family's settlement. As Don Victor and everyone around him begin to confess their deepest secrets, they set off a cascade of strained relationships and further revelations. Arana's novel delves into the collision of the real and the magical and the age-old conflict between head and heart.

Dial Press. 384 pages. $24. ISBN: 0385336640

Ft. Worth Star Telegram ****1/2

"Cellophane ... is so rich in themes, symbolism, conflict, and character that you can almost hear literature teachers rejoicing in this new work worthy of deconstruction and analysis. It's also for those who just want a good tale, a brilliant piece of storytelling that combines magical realism in the tradition of writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez with comedic looks at human foibles and misunderstandings a la Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream ." CATHERINE MALLETTE

Baltimore Sun ****

"In the world of this novel, misunderstanding and misapprehensions are more likely to ameliorate matters than to muddle them. It's a strikingly lovely form of grace that imbues Arana's book and stands, in the end, more memorable even than the fortunate fall of Don Victor and his cellophane dreams." LAURA DEMANSKI

Los Angeles Times ****

"[Arana's] powerful, compassionate insights into human behavior are what drive the plot, not the arcane secrets of the spirit universe.... Her book is a superb example of the magic that a gifted storyteller can work with ink and paper." JONATHAN KIRSCH

Miami Herald ****

"Whether she's in the role of critic, memoirist, or novelist, Arana is a finely tuned writer who knows how to harvest her worlds and bring them to the...

To continue reading