Monday, March 31, 2014

"The Flower of My Secret": the problems of authors faking themselves with pseudonyms

The Flower of My Secret” (“La flor de mi secreto”, 1995), is one of Pedro Almodovar’s earlier films that layer fiction and “reality” within the various spaces of a writer’s life.
Leo (Marisa Parides) makes a living under contract from a publisher that expects genre romance novels, with happy endings and no politics.  It guarantees her anonymity by publicizing only her pseudonym, Amanda Gris. 
When her relationship with her husband (Imanol Arias), a peacekeeper in Bosnia whose presence is erratic, flounders (some critics often note the way this gay director understands heterosexual marriage from a distant perspective, like that of an anthropologist) , she becomes depressed and writes a ghostly non-pink novel that actually became the 2006 film “Volver”.  The publisher is insulted, and forty minutes into the film there is an interesting discussion of integrity among authors and publishers.  The publisher says “Reality should be banned”.  Authors should please and give pleasure (Wordsworth-like) to readers, not lecture them on morality (like I do, or like Leo wants to).  If you don’t help your readers, what good is what you have done with your life?
A friend Betty (Carmen Alias) introduces her to a newspaper editor Angel (Juan Echanove), a fan of her romance novels, who persuades her to review her own work, which she trashes. 
The film has rather garish photography, with all those bright Spanish colors, especially red.
It’s hard to imagine a parallel to my own situation.  Suppose I led a double life and was hired to write children’s books under a pseudonym, and could make a living from it.  And then suppose I reviewed my own children’s books on my own blogs.  I wouldn’t give a mouse a cookie, remember.  And no wonder Facebook insists on people using real names.   

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