Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Five Acts of Diego Leon by Alex Espinoza


A Mexican boy comes to Hollywood to become a movie star

Diego Leon, an orphaned half Indian boy, is sent away to his rich grandparents’ house during the time of the Mexican Revolution.  After being groomed to take over his patrician grandfather’s legal business and becoming engaged to a devout young heiress, Diego chucks this preordained life away and leaves for Hollywood to pursue his love of acting.  Once in Hollywood, he is looked down upon because he is Mexican.  Diego sweeps floors, then get a few roles as an extra, then meets a handsome producer.  Suddenly he starts getting bigger parts.  The producer grows tired of him, but eventually Diego, in his final film, perhaps learns to act at last.

The structure is simple – five big chunks. Diego the mestizo living in the Indian village, Diego the young bourgeois living in the city, Diego the immigrant sweeping the floor of a LA café, Diego the struggling actor, and Diego the quasi movie star. The opening part of the novel, set in the Indian village, was truly compelling, and I was gripped wondering what would happen to the boy.  However, after that, the plotting is pretty much nonexistent, the scenes lined up like train cars one after the other, rather than having the events in one scene trigger the next.  The dialogue is expository.  The main problem is that Diego Leon is a robot being pushed along the path of his life.  Is he gay or straight – that seems to be a conflict every so often he encounterse.  He doesn’t seem to consistently feel any lust (either for bodies or for achievements) and I’m not so sure that conforms to real life.  Also, his prime motivation is to be a famous actor, but again, I’m not sure why.







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