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FresáN, Rodrigo 1963-

FresáN, Rodrigo 1963-

PERSONAL:

Born 1963, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Barcelona, Spain.

CAREER:

Writer, actor, and novelist. Appeared as title character in Martin (Hache), 1997. Appeared as himself in a number of television programs, including Silenci?, Estravagario, Millenium, and Soriano.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Five best foreign books of 2005 distinction, London Financial Times, for Kensington Gardens.

WRITINGS:

Historia Argentina, Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1991.

Vidas de santos, Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1993.

Trabajos manuales, Planeta (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1994.

Esperanto, Tusquets Editores (Barcelona, Spain), 1997.

La velocidad de las cosas, Tusquets Editores (Buenos Aires, Argentina), 1998.

Jardines de Kensington, Mondadori (Barcelona, Spain), 2003, translation by Natasha Wimmer published as Kensington Gardens, Faber & Faber (London, England), 2005, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to periodicals in Latin America and Europe, including El Pais, Pagina/12, and Letras Libres.

SIDELIGHTS:

Argentine writer and novelist Rodrigo Fresán is the author of numerous books in his native Spanish. His English-language debut, Kensington Gardens, is a "dark-hearted, sinuously plotted journey into the world of children's literature," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic. The theme of the book owes much to popular children's character Peter Pan and his creator J.M. Barrie. Narrator Peter Hook is a wealthy, reclusive writer of children's literature, known for the "Jim Yang" series of time-travel adventures, but he is also quite mentally unbalanced. At the beginning of the novel, Hook kidnaps young actor Keiko Kai, who portrays Jim Yang in the movies. Hook then proceeds to tell his entire story to the bound and gagged Keiko, almost in a confessional style, as the young actor ponders his fate. Hook tells about his youth as the son of 1960s counterculture figures who hobnobbed with the biggest names in entertainment. He almost ruefully describes the phenomenal success and popularity of his work. He recounts the tragic death of his younger brother when both were children, and the drastic change in his parents' attitudes toward him after the death of his sibling. With fantasy his only escape, the young Hook turned to books, films, and make-believe while his parents ignored him or pursued their own interests.

Intertwined with the fictional story of Hook's youth is a relatively accurate biography of Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie, contrasting the turbulent 1960s of Hook's youth with the Victorian era of Barrie's life. Hook points out the similarities between the two authors' backgrounds, how they both lost younger brothers, how they both took up a rich literary and fantasy life, and how they failed to find redemption in children's literature. "With astonishing skill, Fresán (who must be reckoned among the most notable of young Latin American writers) weaves all these various threads into a complex, gripping narrative about lost childhoods, phantom parents, and the resulting tragic adult lives," commented Alberto Manguel in the Observer. By the end of the novel, Keiko has learned much about both Hook and Barrie, and upon his "cliff-hanger fate revolves the novel's brilliant and unexpected conclusion," noted Manguel. "Hook's voice is at once seductive and frantic; the feverish, hallucinatory quality of the prose makes the book hard to resist," concluded the Kirkus Reviews contributor.

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 2006, Ray Olson, review of Kensington Gardens, p. 22.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of Kensington Gardens, p. 483.

Library Journal, May 15, 2006, Lawrence Olszewski, review of Kensington Gardens, p. 87.

Observer (London, England), July 23, 2005, Alberto Manguel, "Hooked on Childhood," review of Kensington Gardens.

Publishers Weekly, April 3, 2006, review of Kensington Gardens, p. 37.

Washington Post, August 10, 2006, Elizabeth Hand, "Peter Pan and Paisley," review of Kensington Gardens, p. C3.

ONLINE

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 20, 2006), filmography of Rodrigo Fresán.

Rodrigo Fresán blog,http://rodrigofresan.blogspot.com (December 20, 2006).

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