Mascara delves into the dark terrain of identity and disguise when the lives of three people collide. A nameless man with a face no one remembers has the devastating ability to see and capture on film the brutal truths lurking inside each person he encounters. Oriana, a beautiful woman with the memory of an innocent child, is relentlessly pursued by mysterious figures from her past. Doctor Mavirelli is a brilliant and power-hungry plastic surgeon who controls society’s most prominent figures by shaping their faces. The twining of these three fates plays out in a climactic unmasking.
Chilean exile Dorfman's latest work (after The Last Song of Manuel Sendero ) is a tantalizingly ambiguous web of deceit, intrigue and obsession, its layers of meaning gradually revealed. The first, and longest, part of the book is a paranoic monologue by a nameless man with a face that no one recognizes or remembers. Never lovedeven by his own motherbecause he is so forgettable, he turns his curse to his advantage and spies on others, blackmailing victims with photographs that he takes just when their faces reveal their true natures. His life of carefully constructed obscurity is threatened when he runs his car into that of Dr. Maleverdi, a famous plastic surgeon. Then Oriana, an amnesiac, is left in his keeping and he falls in love with her. But with Oriana, who is being tracked by two shadowy men, he is no longer unnoticed, and he realizes that someone is subverting his entire network of spies and informants. Just when it seems that the narrator is about to reveal the cause of his persecution, the narration switches to another voice, that of Oriana's real mnemonic being, which the narrator has hoped will never surface. A final section is narrated by Maleverdi, who, it turns out, has known of the faceless man since his birth, and has watched over his whole life. ``A Sort of Epilogue'' tantalizingly concludesbut doesn't resolvethe story, and the reader is left in delicious puzzlement.