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Prominent Mexican women, private thoughts, in 2nd volume of essays

June 19, 2009 |  2:03 pm

Denise_Dresser When political scientist Denise Dresser had the seemingly simple idea to invite 38 Mexican women to write a series of personal essays, the book that resulted was a surprise best-seller. Now, five years later, Dresser has released a second volume of “Gritos y susurros” (“Cries and Whispers”) with another batch of women (39 of them, this time).

The point, Dresser says, is to give voice to the harrowing, humorous and intimate experiences of women in a country that remains socially conservative and staunchly Roman Catholic. “I hope this will be read by the partners, the children, the colleagues of these women,” Dresser said, “to better understand the experience of the Mexican woman.”

Dresser spoke at the book’s formal launch here in Mexico City, to a standing-room-only audience at the Lunario, a concert hall that is part of the National Auditorium. The 39 women — politicians, writers, activists, a chef — whose essays fill the book also attended, all dressed in black and assembled on a stage decorated with white gladiolas.

Many of the essays are candid and unexpected. Hard-charging journalist Lydia Cacho, known for her crusading and often dangerous reporting, writes about the delight of falling in love at the age of 40. (“Even the words smile as I fling them to paper,” she writes.) And prominent feminist Maria Teresa Priego writes, with great difficulty and emotion, about enduring an abusive husband: “I am afraid to try to understand that woman who I was. … I’ve never known whether I forgave her.”

“Gritos y susurros II” is in Spanish, runs 490 pages and is published by Aguilar Althea Taurus Alfaguara.

— Tracy Wilkinson in Mexico City

Image: Denise Dresser, from Quien.com

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