The Opening Chapter of Curva Peligrosa
Bones Will Be Bones
They didn’t think much about it when the wind picked up without warning late one summer afternoon and a dark cloud hurtled towards them over the prairies. Alberta residents are used to nature’s unpredictability: snowstorms in summer; spring thaws during severe cold snaps; hail or thunderstorms appearing out of nowhere on a perfect summer day. At times, hot dry winds roar through like Satan’s breath, churning up the soil and sucking it into the air, turning the sky dark as ink. Months later, some people are still digging out from under the spewed dirt. But this wasn’t just a windstorm. A tornado aimed directly at the town of Weed, it whipped itself into a frenzy.
To the Weedites, it sounded like a freight train bearing down on them, giving off a high-pitched shriek the closer it got, like a stuck whistle. The noise drowned out everything else. Right before the tornado hit, a wall of silence descended, as if the cyclone and every living thing in the area had been struck dumb.
And then a completely intact purple outhouse dropped into the center of town, a crescent-shaped moon carved into its door. It landed right next to the Odd Fellows Hall and behind the schoolhouse. Most people thought the privy had been spared because its owner—Curva Peligrosa, a mystery since her arrival two years earlier—had been using it at the time.
Meanwhile, the tornado’s racket resumed, and Curva sat inside the outhouse, peering through a slit in the door at the village dismantling around her. The funnel sucked up whole buildings and expelled them, turning most of Weed upside down and inside out. Unhinged from houses, doors and roofs flew past, along with walls freed from their foundations. The loosening of so many buildings’ restraints released something inside Curva. Never had she been so aroused. It was more exhilarating than riding the horse she’d bartered for recently, a wild gelding. The horse excited her, especially when she imagined herself riding its huge organ. In the midst of the noise and clatter, just as the tornado reached its climax, Curva had hers.
A heavy rain followed, some of it seeping into Curva’s sanctuary and dampening the walls as well as her nightdress. So much rain pelted the town it created a flood that overran the main street. Protected from the worst of the storm, Curva drowsed and dreamt that she fell through the hole in the seat, landing on the ground with a soft thud next to a pile of bones, each about ten inches long, worn smooth from the elements. She grabbed one and—still aroused—used it, waking to the melting feeling of another orgasmand the sound of rain pelting the roof.
Praise for Curva Peligrosa:
“Readers will find themselves spellbound by this novel’s enchanted events. From the opening page when a tornado picks up a purple outhouse and deposits it intact in the middle of the Canadian prairie town of Weed with seductive Curva Peligrosa still inside, magical events occur. A visitor all the way from Mexico, Curva, six feet tall, lusty, mysterious, and irresistibly attractive, enthralls the townspeople. After her arrival, miraculous events envelop her and the town. Curva’s dead twin brother appears. Ancient bones speak and come to life. A geyser bursts spontaneously from the earth, gushing water even in winter. In prose lush and poetic, Lily Iona MacKenzie’s novel explores the inscrutable connection between life and art, fiction and fact. I found myself captivated from first page to last. —Hugh Cook, author of Heron River
“Curva Peligrosa takes you on an entertaining, raucous even bawdy ride.” Nina Schuyler, award-winning author of The Painting and The Translater
Synopsis of Curva:
When Curva Peligrosa arrives in Weed, Alberta, after a twenty-year trek on the Old North Trail from southern Mexico, she stops its residents in their tracks. With a parrot on each shoulder, a glittering gold tooth, and a wicked trigger finger, she is unlike anything they have ever seen before. Curva is ready to settle down, but are the inhabitants of Weed ready for her? Possessed of an insatiable appetite for life and love, Curva’s infectious energy galvanizes the townspeople, turning their staid world upside down with her exotic elixirs and unbridled ways. Toss in an unscrupulous americano developer and a one-eyed Blackfoot chief, stir them all together in the tumult of a tempestuous tornado, and the town of Weed will never be the same again. A lyrical account of one woman’s journey and the unexpected effects it has on the people around her, Curva Peligrosa pulses with the magic at the heart and soul of life.
A Couple of Amazon Reviews of Curva:
Magic follows her, to hovers around her and her mysterious green house, her herbal cures, her skills as a midwife, her sharpshooting, her otherworldly dandelion wine, her lusty appreciation of sex, and her larger-than-life approach to living that astounds and intrigues the residents of her adopted town. They are scared of her but can’t stay away.
Time and reality blur in this well-written and carefully researched novel, in part because the chapters are–in a sense–a series of slices life and mini-stories that are not exactly presented in chronological order. Along the trail, Curva writes letters to her dead brother Xavier who will become a frequent visitor to her spread near Weed. The prostitute and fortune teller Suelita and Billie, the Blackfoot chief from the nearby reservation, are also frequent visitors. Everyone drinks the wine. Lots of it.
And then there’s the man named Shirley from Sweet Grass, Montana who wants to drill for oil throughout the region. Shirley thinks he can tame Curva’s strange ideas, alluring body, and potentially oil-rich land.
Kadeem, the leader of a traveling troupe of acrobats and other performers tells Curva, “Nothing is what it seems. Carpets fly. Plants give birth to animals. Characters escape from novels. All this is normal.” Such things occur as regularly as the rising and setting of the sun and moon throughout the inventive magical realism, addictive plot, and exotic character development of Lily Iona MacKenzie’s “Curva Peligrosa.”
Chances are good that Curva, Sabina (her daughter of unclear origins), Xavier (who dislikes being called dead, much less a corpse), Billie (who talks to old bones), Suelita (who longs for wings), and even Shirley (who thinks material riches are everything) will ultimately escape from from this novel. If so, they will visit you during storms, fog, and dreams. This is normal.
I loved Fling! and when I heard that MacKenzie had a new release, I was ecstatic! Curva Peligrosa is filled with quirky characters, lyrical narration and a strong message of embracing all that life has to offer. Blending history with the present, MacKenzie weaves an addictive tale. I loved the supernatural parts (who wouldn’t love to make flowers bloom wherever she goes?) and while it’s steeped in fantasy, it’s believable and thus the reader can suspend their belief. The main conflict between the oilman and the small town is a familiar one in Alberta and MacKenzie sheds new light on this political issue.
Free your inhibitions and pick up this book today. You’ll fall in love with the effervescent Curva Peligrosa, just like I did!
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from the author in the hopes I’d review it.
Favorite Character/Quote: Curva. I loved everything about her and soaked up her essence. We all have a little Curva buried deep in us. We just need to unleash her.
My Rating: 5 stars
Discussion questions are available for Curva. Email me (see contact page) if you would like me to send them!