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Beauty and Trash: A Photo Tour of Buenos Aires (PHOTOS)

Posted: 08/25/11 03:18 PM ET

I moved to Buenos Aires in 2001, a few months before the economic crash. As I wandered the city, I was intrigued by the apparently contradictory conjunction of worlds. In the "Bosques de Palermo" (the Palermo Forests), the transvestites would appear on the outer rim of the pedestrian walk at 6pm in their incandescent outfits while the runners and families on the inner rim would continue their peregrinations, apparently unfazed. Or you'd be walking along a Palermo street lined with restaurants and shops and would suddenly stumble unto a wasteland, grass and dirt, where the railroad passed through.

In my novel, The Foreigners, this post-crash city in the throes of its own identity crisis becomes the setting for three women's self-transformation. Blond Austrian emigré Isolde revels in her status as a European in Buenos Aires, aristocratic unless proven otherwise, and braves solitude and even ruin in her desperate efforts to prolong her sojourn. Directionless American divorcée, Daisy, finds herself behaving in ways she never would on home turf. Spurred on by Leonarda, a seductive, chameleonic Argentine whose Master Plan to hunt down the city's most illustrious writer implies a web of psychological and sexual intrigue, Daisy enters into murky moral territory, only to discover that the game is being played on her. The fragmented city, rife with beauty and contradictions, provides fertile terrain for my characters to lose themselves, flounder and flourish anew.

Trees and Trash
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Internationally renown Argentine artist, Guillermo Kuitca, tells his students, "When you're making art, don't forget about trash," a pointer that his natal city illustrates eloquently, where there's an arresting conjunction of beauty with trash nearly everywhere you look.
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