No Matter How Much You Promise To Cook Or Pay The Rent (Fall 2003) Ripe, ungainly, streetwise, glaringly tricked-up, and heavy with reference to (and reverence for) American music, Yunque's 638-page epic lives up to its title. One day… Fiction
Book Review

No Matter How Much You Promise To Cook Or Pay The Rent (Fall 2003)

EW's GRADE
B

Details Writer: Edgardo Vega Yunque; Genre: Fiction

Ripe, ungainly, streetwise, glaringly tricked-up, and heavy with reference to (and reverence for) American music, Yunque's 638-page epic lives up to its title. One day in the mid-'80s, precocious half-Puerto Rican teen Vidamia Farrell -- born on New York City's scrappy Lower East Side, raised in its gilded suburbs -- seeks the father she never knew. He, Billy Farrell, is a one-time pianist who lost two fingers and the bit of gray matter bearing his prodigious jazz knowledge in Vietnam. She resolves to buy him a piano, and Yunque riffs on themes of cultural identity. Less successfully, he further crams in discursions on puberty, post-traumatic stress disorder, and hermaphroditism; walk-ons by Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane; and a load of unbelievable dialogue. Somewhere inside this baggy saga is a nice little story.

Originally posted Oct 10, 2003 Published in issue #732 Oct 10, 2003 Order article reprints