“Tarantula Woman” tells the story of an American guy living in Juarez, Mexico and making (little) money translating letters into English for local whores, whom he frequents quite often while inebriated. The whores are writing mainly to ex-customers who went back home, in the hope these men will agree to marry them and thus put an end to their miserable existence.
The characters in the book are quite well-developed, but the story doesn’t really go anywhere. Page after page we are treated with more drinking and more whoring, which in and of itself wouldn’t be so not bad, if it were to serve a higher literary purpose. In this book, it doesn’t. It is a dark book, a tale of lives lived miserably, with little or no direction, and with no real hope for change.
One might learn a lot from this book about life in lowest rungs of Mexican society (if this book is indeed a true reflection of this life), but not much beyond. The supposedly main character – the “Tarantula Woman” – doesn’t leave a lasting impression on the reader and, as stated, it is unclear what it is she, or the American lowlife that is the narrator of the story, are really doing (except drinking and whoring).
Disclosure: I didn’t finish the book (something that rarely happens to me). I managed to get just half way through before giving up. So perhaps the story does pick up after at some point, but I doubt it (I read the last chapter). Read another book.