Child's Play: A Novel Hardcover – Aug 4 2009
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“Carmen Posadas, a prize-winning author who lives in Madrid, plays with expectations about a child’s capacity for innocence and evil in her new novel.” (New York Times)
“Child’s Play is a book to be savored, a book to be read and read again with pleasure.” (Blogcritics.com)
“Child’s Play is a pungent brew of intellectual stimulation and deep thought about the rules that bind mystery writers and readers together, and why it is necessary to wrench them apart.” (barnesandnoble.com)
About the Author
The daughter of diplomats, Carmen Posadas grew up in Buenos Aires and Moscow. Her novel Little Indiscretions (Pequeñas infamias) won the coveted Planeta Prize, and her books have been translated into twenty-one languages. A prize-winning children's author and writer for film and television, she lives in Madrid.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Yet this lack of clarity serves Luisa's purpose, and the protagonist she is creating in her new novel, to temporize and ruminate about the truth vs. the fantasy that absorbs most of the woman's waking hours. Hiding behind her identity as a writer, Luisa appears constitutionally incapable of speaking honestly or following a rational thought. Instead, she is indulges in stream-of-consciousness ramblings that mix fact and fiction, idealization with fragments that never quite make a whole. Either this tale is genius or an exercise in self-indulgence masquerading as a novel. It takes good deal of tedious slogging through Luisa's imagination to get to the heart of the matter. Easier to have skipped to the final pages.
The facts are curious: four children, one dies suddenly, a twin boy. The survivors of this traumatic incident meet again unexpectedly as adults with their children and the scenario plays out again. In each case, a child is dead. Who is to blame? And rather than build a cogent story, the author drags the readers through Luisa's cluttered mind- therein the genius or the foolishness. For it is necessary to endure Luisa's endless ruminations to get to the crux of her concerns, an exercise that will be thrilling to some, torture to others.
Stream-of-consciousness writing is not for the faint of heart and I discover, not for the first time, that the reward is insufficient for the mental acrobatics required in navigating Luisa's real life vs. her alter ego, Carmen, in the book she is writing. Surely there is a fine line between these worlds. But to be technical, the plot device of novel-in-process and life is not borne out and simply becomes a ploy. The deeper into Luisa's consciousness I get, the less justification for a parallel plot. I sense a sophisticated, brilliant novelist at work, but have not the endurance to appreciate the subtleties of this particular challenge. Luan Gaines/2009.
History keeps repeating itself and life and art are imitating each other in Carmen Posada's bizarre mystery "Child's Play" - an intricately plotted novel that asks us, "How well do we really know our children?" "Child's Play" is a fast-paced, fun to read novel that is very macabre. Posada herself has been compared to the great Agatha Christie of whom I was once a devoted fan. The similarities are incredible. Some of Dame Agatha's plots involved the murdering of children and murders committed by children. Numerous murders were perpetrated by those who seemed perfectly innocent. One of Dame Agatha's characters summed it up quite well when she said, "When no one suspects you, murder is easy." As pointed out by a friend of Luisa, there are many murders each year that are disguised as accidents.
In the foyer of Luisa Dávila's apartment, there are mirrors facing each other that create an endless series of reflections. The mirror is a symbol used constantly throughout "Child's Play." For example, the past and present mirror each other, children are mirror images of their parents and fictional characters in novels are mirror images of their authors. Sometimes it is best not to look into a mirror; the reflection can be shocking. The more Luisa searches for the truth behind the children's deaths, the more shocked and horrified she becomes. The reader feels great sympathy towards her as a single parent raising a difficult child at fifty two while writing a novel that is releasing suppressed feelings that threaten to drive her insane.
"Child's Play" has been adeptly translated from Spanish to English by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson. The novel was easy to read and I would never have known it was a translation if it hadn't been stated as such on the title page. "Child's Play" is highly recommended if you enjoy bizarre mysteries with strong elements of psychological horror. The ending is rather strange and unnerving, as were some mysteries penned by Agatha Christie. After reading "Child's Play," you will want to pay more attention to the games your children are playing. Some of them might be quite deadly.
Joseph B. Hoyos
Now forty years later, Miguel meets his school-days' friends, Sofia Marquez and Luisa Davila. Sofia teaches at the school they attended while her class includes her daughter Avril, Luisa's daughter Elba and Miguel's son Miki; all tweeners. Miguel is in a nasty custody battle with his fourth wife and Luisa has changed from children's writer to cerebral mysteries. When Miki dies falling down stairs at the school, the novelist begins seeing murderers lurking at every corners of the school; no different than how she felt when Antonio allegedly accidentally died.
With all that is going on, CHILD'S PLAY lacks suspense as the intriguing story line has more of a philosophical loquacity to it than an action thriller. The key cast members are fully developed, but are introspective even when they debate what happened then and what is occurring now. Well written with a harrowing profoundness that is not for everyone especially those readers who prefer action, Carmen Posades provides an interesting relationship drama in which the ties that bind the living are death.
This is a clever but sparkling read which deconstructs crime fiction while providing satisfying mysteries. The humour is at times ebony black and the pages are laced with astute psychological observation, as you would expect from a Jamesian devotee; the psychological eye trained not only on the characters, but also on author and reader.