Frankenstein Book Report: Cockfight, by Maria Fernanda Ampuero (tr: Frances Riddle)

Grindcore feminism.

I’m trying to think of a clever aphorism for the opposite of subtlety. There are plenty of jokes à la “I put the B in subtle” or “P as in Psychology” but there are no silent consonants in Cockfight [ (c 2018, Spanish) Maria Fernanda Ampuero. (c 2020, English) Frances Riddle, Feminist Press]. Perhaps books that are this direct and raw are by definition immune to cliché.

Cockfight starts like the movie Taken if Taken was written by that American in Italy who was accused of murdering her roommate or boyfriend or whatever it was (I’m not looking up her name). The book took me somewhere between Virginie Despentes and Michael Haneke, but we end up in a bleached pool in a resort villa in Ecuador (the plot of the last story in this collection). We’re vacationing, we’re beautiful, we’re contemplative; we’re contemplating cutting our faces open. Post-Marxist vacations are dark!

In a double-billing, I’d read this in tandem with Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, which doesn’t put a b in subtle but perhaps capitalizes it so you know the B is in there.