Faith in Carlos Gomez: A Memoir of Salsa, Sex, and Salvation

Overview

A writer's all-consuming passion for salsa opens the door to an unexpected world in a nonfiction tale with all the sexiness and humor of the best chick lit

Samantha Dunn is a horsewoman who's not exactly graceful-more comfortable in a barn than in a ballroom. Her introduction to salsa dancing happens by chance in a kitchen during a dinner with a blacksmith from South America. To impress this handsome man on their next date, she decides to take a dance lesson. But then the ...

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Overview

A writer's all-consuming passion for salsa opens the door to an unexpected world in a nonfiction tale with all the sexiness and humor of the best chick lit

Samantha Dunn is a horsewoman who's not exactly graceful-more comfortable in a barn than in a ballroom. Her introduction to salsa dancing happens by chance in a kitchen during a dinner with a blacksmith from South America. To impress this handsome man on their next date, she decides to take a dance lesson. But then the unpredictable happens: from the first steps, something about the movement and the exotic, sliding music takes hold of her.

From that point on, Dunn throws herself into the salsa culture. She soaks up the Spanish language-an easy feat in her home city of Los Angeles-and begins a peculiar relationship with her dance instructor, a local salsa celebrity. What started off as a lark becomes a quest that reframes her life, changing the way she thinks about her body, her relationships with men and women, her personal history, and even her country. She is hearing tropical rhythms in her head, taking lessons, buying Lycra, and cruising unexplored sections of the vast Southern California metropolis on weeknights in search of the sweaty, packed salsa clubs. And as Latino culture becomes ever more influential in California, she is recognizing the changes in her own life mirrored in the city she thought she knew.

Faith in Carlos Gomez is a story of a woman discovering love-for salsa dancing, for music, for a culture, and for Carlos Gomez-and determined to learn whatever steps she'll need to keep up.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Samantha Dunn, who could be the synthesis of Sophia Loren, Simone De Beauvoir, and Dale Evans, has written an unflinchingly honest and extremely funny memoir. Here we get dance as seduction, dance as sex, and dance as salvation. Faith in Carlos Gomez is a moving and amusing chronicle of love, the loss of love, and the picking up the pieces to a salsa beat. This book is pure joy."

—Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment

Publishers Weekly
If your heart beats to the rhythm of salsa-or tango or waltz, for that matter-you'll empathize with Dunn's sudden passion for the Cuban dance, despite her preternatural clumsiness, and one can particularly admire her courage in dancing despite having a metal rod in one leg, the legacy of a horse-riding accident. But this memoir is not for devotees: they already know the nightly routine of following the salsa trail from club to club, the complexities of the rhythm and movement, the subtleties of leading and following-all a revelation to Dunn. And frankly, Dunn's constant self-deprecations about her lack of dancing ability and her I'm-just-a-cowgirl-and-don't-know-how-to-attract-a-man pose are more annoying than charming, particularly after two desirable men leap into bed with her in the opening sections. Yet this fairly typical tale of the search for love and happiness has beautiful patches of writing (Dunn's novel Failing Paris was a PEN/West award finalist), especially when she captures the magic of, and the longing for, the dance ("I watch serious salseras, and I ache to know that kind of movement within my own body," as if it might "unearth something long buried") or elegizing the true love of her life, her Thoroughbred, Harley. Agent, Peter Matson. (July 5) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Los Angeles freelance writer Dunn (Failing Paris) tries too hard to be clever in this memoir, which tells of how, after almost losing her leg in a horseback riding accident, she redefines herself through salsa music. Similar issues-psychological recovery from injury and loss as well as careful, introspective self-reinvention-were at play in Dunn's 2003 memoir, Not by Accident: Reconstructing a Careless Life, albeit in lighter form. Other factors that have helped Dunn put things in perspective are her topsy-turvy love life and her turbulent relationship with her dancer mother. Dunn is a talented writer who seems at odds with herself in this book, too cutesy and erudite by turns. With a heroine you want to like but mostly feel embarrassed for, this book seems like an uncommitted stab at genre writing. An optional purchase for public libraries where chick lit is popular.-Terren Ilana Wein, Univ. of Chicago Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Horsewoman and freelance writer Dunn unexpectedly loses herself in salsa, where she finds personal insight and a whole new community. After nearly losing her leg in a horseback riding accident some years ago, Dunn was able to get back on the horse, but she didn't figure on doing much more dancing in her life. But after she's (willingly, happily) seduced by her irresistible Latino blacksmith-he shoes her horse-she finds herself in desperate need of dancing lessons. Contrary to her expectations, she's almost immediately disillusioned with the blacksmith, but finds that the dancing has invaded her thoughts; she's begun to hear salsa beats as she walks down the street. Her teacher, too, has become strangely attractive to her after taking her out to a salsa club and showing her his amazing moves on the dance floor. Dunn can't understand the turn her life is taking, but she's suddenly in total thrall to the Latin dancing world. She takes private lessons, seeks out gifted instructors and goes out to dance clubs every night, despite her bum leg and nagging lack of rhythm. She even begins wearing skirts, something she'd never imagined doing again after her accident. With a salty southern charm, Dunn is like the Brett Butler of the L.A. salsa scene, charming and seducing the reader into wondering whether maybe it's time to sign up for salsa lessons at the local studio. As Dunn runs through her romantic misadventures and her stormy relationship with her mother, herself a dancer, she points to her many missteps, but the overall impression is of a woman who is finding her way, learning to trust herself and other people. Drama, humor and the heat of the salsa scene infuse the work. A salty, sexy storywith a deeply likable heroine who's dancing as fast as she can.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805080162
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/2/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Samantha Dunn is the author of Not by Accident and the novel Failing Paris, which was a finalist for the PEN/West Award. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, InStyle, Shape, Self, and numerous other national publications. She lives in Southern

California.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2005

    Salseras Unite!!

    Being a California native that was absorbed in 'the salsa scene', this book was a joy to read!! It was interesting to see how Samantha changed as a person as result of discovering salsa dancing. I could relate on a personal level as I too discovered this beautiful movement to music at the Conga Room in Los Angeles and through it all I made great friends and am always seeking that 'fix' with a good dance.

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