I have fallen in love. The Spanish language, its culture and its history are the objects of my affection. Luisa Valenzuela’s Cambio de Armas, in the end, did me in. Her violencia erotica expresses the deeply driven roots of the anguish of la Guerra Sucia in Argentina in the middle of the 20th century. The pornographic scandal and the amnesic demeanor of the protagonist Laura make the reader se estremece. But in the belleza of the estranged words and the highly dysfunctional confusion there is a deeply rooted connection a todas humans: the desire for and needing to understand amor, love. Even though Laura spends her time beside a plant and a staged photo of her boda, listening to the clock, waiting for the violación of an unknown lover, she is yearning and pining for those moments when what she believes is love, in her reality, can exist. We all may fool ourselves for what love really is, but in the end, isn’t our definición personal the only thing that matters? If this is love to Laura – this amor extraño – then to her, this is the best love there is. This is the best she, and anyone, can really do because what we know within ourselves and our own personal realidades are all that will ever exist. This beauty of independent solace is why the Spanish language and Valenzuela have captured my heart, redefining my meaning of amor.
—Kenya Strong Johnston