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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Worst Book Misconception Ever: MAMista

PROTIP FOR PEOPLE WHO DO NOT SPEAK SPANISH: "Mamacita" and "Mamista" are two completely different terms, even though moderately filtered Google Image Search will deliver cheesecake photo results on the first page of the search results for both of them. The first is Spanish for "little mama," and the second is a shitty thriller by Len Deighton set in South America.

After misreading the title, I dug myself into a deeper hole by barely skimming the jacket copy, which mentioned Graham Greene. I always get Graham Green confused with Evelyn Waugh (don't ask), so I expected something like Scoop crossed with Our Man in Havana. The garish cover didn't help. It made me think of South American hijinks on par with a novelization of Club Paradise, where a plucky band of misfits topple a corrupt government and free a country from the yoke of big business, with wacky adventures and possible comedic subplots involving fake pregnancies, subverted gender roles, and mistaken identity.

I was very, very wrong. By the time I figured it out, it was easier just to finish the book. SPOILER ALERT Here's what happened:

The male lead? Dead.

The love interest? Dead.

The guerillas? Ultimately losing a war of attrition on two fronts against the government and the untreated afflictions of the pestilential rainforest, presumed dead.

The two Americans abducted in a guerilla raid? The civilian grinds up his eyeglasses and swallows the shards, dying a slow, agonizing death from internal bleeding. The other one, an undercover CIA agent, also ends up dead.

The idealistic college student who traveled to the country with dreams of helping the marxist revolution? Dead.

The enterprising South American who uses the student's ID to return to the states? Tracked down and killed in the hospital by mobsters because the student skipped town while owing huge debts to a loan shark.

I think the only people who don't die are the President of the United States and his aide, who are spliced into the end of the story to make some point about politics ignoring human suffering and developed nations exploiting the life-and-death struggles of the third world for their own gain.

This was, hands down, the worst comedy about sassy latinas turning society upside down in a tinpot South American dictatorship that I have ever read.

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