Balzac said that all great books are about sex and money. If he had read Patricia Monge’s book of short stories, Edecán urbana, he would have been satisfied at least halfway. If in the stories there isn’t a lot of money, this lack is compensated – as it is, if we are lucky, in real life – with an abundance of sex.
Monge’s book contains seven episodes in the life of a contemporary woman in Mexico City. The sex scenes are written without adornment, euphemisms, shame or shyness. Upon reading Edecán urbana, what is most striking is that there are so few authors in Mexico, male or female, who write about sex with such frankness. (Which perhaps should come as no surprise – according to one survey, 71 percent of women in Mexico say they are sexually unsatisfied.)
Forewarned is forearmed: Edecán urbana isn’t merely a dirty book. The author is also interested in those intersections in which sex isn’t only about sex – in Monge’s stories, sex is a camouflage for love, for falling out of love, for hoping to fall in love, for the desperate search for love, and the cynicism that accompanies the lack of love.
There are also substantial parts of the book that have nothing to do with sex, or in which the sex is indirect or imagined. Monge, an Argentine who has lived in Mexico for over a decade, like many foreigners, has an expertly jaundiced eye for social stereotypes, such as the petty bureaucrat. In my favorite parts of the book the narrator speculates about the conjugal life of one of these specimens, and how he engenders his infidelities.
In the photo above, the author adjusts an accessory.