In Betrayed by Rita Hayworth, film is not an escape from the boredom of small-town life.
Or it is not SOLELY that.
It is a mechanism for coping with patriarchal and heterosexist violence and trauma.
I have been trying to prepare a more thorough post about my reaction(s) to the text and have unfortunately been very busy, but I want to say now that as important as I think discussion of form and aesthetics are — especially in a text with as many different things going on formally as Betrayed by Rita Hayworth — I think there is also always a relationship between form and content, and to not remark upon the content of this novel, when that content involves shit like a little queer boy getting sexually assaulted by his classmates, a little queer boy getting blasted by his verbally abusive and controlling (as in even in his absence, his family manages their behaviors to avoid incurring his wrath, as in he finds ways to prevent his wife visiting her beloved family home, as in he prevents his wife from pursuits which employ her undergraduate degree and full intellect) father for his queer ass tastes and behaviors, a little queer boy being betrayed (word choice deliberate) by his mother, his one ally, when she cows to her husband and trashes her son’s beloved handmade movie postcards… to not remark upon this content, to continue saying, This is a book about people who use film for escapism, without naming what its characters are escaping from, or more accurately, I would argue, what they are coping with, is to miss something that is really fundamental to the novel. …And especially when this conversation about escapism is framed by that Llosa quote and lame-ass Cheuse introduction (I’m sorry, but I think it’s really lame and doesn’t say very much of interest), saying that this novel is of no consequence beyond its entertainment value… then if we ignore the actual gunk and trauma of Toto’s life, and if we also ignore the shit happening in the lives of these various women narrators, then I believe what we are effectively saying is that the lives of boys like Toto don’t matter.
Which pisses me the fuck off.
So when we are contemplating why Puig made the formal choices he made, can we please, please link this with some consideration of the actual events taking place on the page? So for instance, we could ask: Why is the life of a little queer boy like Toto being narrated through the stream-of-consciousness monologues of a group of gossipy women (how does gossip function in this book as both as a site of resistance and resilience as well as a mechanism through which women keep each other in check, are complicit in patriarchal systems?) Women who are themselves experiencing a shit ton of patriarchal bullshit… Catholicism and sexual shaming, male violence and betrayal, etc, etc… I mean, are y’all reading the same book as me? …I guess I’m not really seeing the “boredom” part.