I read this book for a university course between 1993-97.

The narration is hectic & fragmented: inner thoughts mixed with straight narration mixed with flashbacks, run-on and choppy sentences, funky grammar, etc. I think it would be classified as postmodern.

PLOT: In the U.S., a wealthy, young woman goes to college and meets leftist/radical students who tell her about atrocities taking place in a Latin American country run by a military dictatorship. The young woman's father has business dealings with this country and her family’s wealth is linked to its oppressive regime (she grew up with an idyllic view of this country and knew nothing of the regime's violence toward its people). The final act: her father is hosting a party where a big-shot from this country (I think it’s a high-ranking military official) is the honoured guest (I think she met him before, as a kid or teen). She goes to the party wearing a loose, flowy dress (white with folkloric embroidery) that conceals the fact that she has strapped explosives to her body. She reaches out to embrace the General, hugs him tightly, and then detonates the bomb belt.

One other thing: the narrator describes the young woman as desperate for her father's attention and validation; he views her as a shiny trinket at best. The narrator likens the young woman to a begging puppy, writing something like "wuf, wuf, daddy" -- and this refrain sometimes recurs in the text.

I assume it was published before 1993. And I suspect it was published after 1970: the female protagonist has similarities to Weather Underground radical Diana Oughton, who died in 1970 when a bomb she was building blew up in a Greenwich Village townhouse. There are so many parallels that I can't help but think that the author used this real-life person as partial inspiration for her character.


This is The Measure of Miranda by Sarah Murphy (Edmonton: NeWest Press, 1987). Here are a couple of descriptions of the novel that confirm the points you remembered. First, from a book review:

On one level the book is about Miranda, a young Canadian woman, the perfect 21 year old—beautiful, intelligent and graceful. […] Miranda’s father is head of a subsidiary of a large corporation, based in a Central American country, probably El Salvador. Her mother writes to her, telling her that, of course, life is wonderful in this beautiful country. They have a large and luxurious house, many “happy” servants and peasants, “Who are really different than us, Miranda.” But Miranda, living in Canada and attending university, meets a group of people who help her to see the realities that are around her, the world so different from what her parents wish her to see […] Miranda meets Amparo, a miraculous woman, a Chilean political refugee […] It is through her relationship with Amparo that Miranda is truly awakened, not only to the truths of the oppression, torture and fear that run rampant in Latin America. […]

The novel is written in a “stream of consciousness,” ignoring many rules of grammar and composition. Although this sometimes makes the story difficult to follow it also adds to its great emotional impact.

Isabel Waldman (1989). ‘The Measure of Miranda’. Canadian Woman Studies / les cahiers de la femme 10:1, p. 123.

Second, from a critical analysis:

Miranda’s relationship with her “Daddy” comes through quite clearly in a scene where her parents take her to the restaurant. The “Fairy Princess” reassures her rather tha, despite the fact that she is living in a commune with Jim and has taken up the Central American cause, she is still his “little girl” and that her heart definitely belongs to Daddy. She describes herself as a puupy responding to her master’s voice “already salivating, already getting ready to whine”. The Pavolvian reactions to her facther are rendered parenthetically through onomatopeic barking: “(—wuf, wuf, my own, wuf, my own, wufmyown, … myownperson–)”. Miranda will “strive to stop puppydog[ging]” to her Dad in quite a spectacular way, by using her bride-like, virgin look and her “cheshire cat smile” to approach the Central American Major and detonate the bomb she had been hiding under her purposely white dress. She will blow herself up and, accidentally, her father and everything else within fifty feet.

Chantal Zabus (2002). Tempests after Shakespeare, p.122. Palgrave.


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