Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Lost Diary of Don Juan by Douglas Carlton Abrams

(In which old diaries are still the best.)

***

One thing, among others, that is considerably underrated nowadays is privacy. Almost all of us posts not only what we're thinking but also what we're eating, doing, seeing, as well as who we're hating or loving and all the other stuff that used to be private at least half a decade ago when internet access was a luxury and blogs and networking sites were uncommon. At the rise of these groundbreaking technological innovations, almost everybody can see what's in other people's minds, hearts or stomach even if (sometimes) they don't want to. It has indeed become an age of public diaries.

But honestly, if there's something more joyfully intrusive and sneakier in the past than stalking someone on Facebook now, it's peeking into someone else's diary. Now reading someone else's diary in its entirety is another story. It somehow becomes something like reading or watching prohibited media - still taboo, yet without the adrenaline rush and the mystery. Fortunately, though, that's not always the case. Take Abram's first novel for example, in which he offers a traverse in the mind of one of the most notorious (if not the most already) womanizer of all time, Don Juan..

Abandoned in a monastery and raised by Sevillian nuns, Don Juan Tenorio grew up to be the romantic figure that he was known today after a tragic love affair. He rose up to nobility through the help of Marquis de la Mota. He worked as a thief, a spy, and a galeantador, seducer of women. He seduced women after women of various colors, social and marital status. Loved by virgins and wives and widows, he was terribly abhorred by husbands and most specially the Holy Inquisition. Just when he thought that he was only capable of giving women pleasure, he found Doña Ana, the girl he willed to give his heart and fight for, even at the expense of his friendship with the Marquis.

Starting with the editor’s disclaimer regarding the diary’s authenticity and ending with the last entry by Don Juan’s coachman, readers are bound to be intoxicated with the life of this love guru. Told in his eloquent voice and masterful lectures on love and passion, one would perhaps cease seeing Don Juan as an insouciant bed hopper but as a person in need and worthy of love and companionship.