Is an overlapping palimpsest of media violence and real violence placed ambiguously in the studios of Hollywood, the jungles of Vietnam, and the myth saturated backlands of Mexico. It projects a dense atmosphere of sexual violations echoing ancient sacrifice, decadent Western interlopers, a pernicious exoticism. Above all, a confusion of the real and the make-believe, leading one to question distictions between the two and to speculate on the influences of the one on the other. Taut, script-like paragraphs generate a tension reinforced by an acute awareness of local flora and fauna, weapons, the glitz of movie-making against a background of poverty. How finally, can we tell the camera from what it shoots?
In Maya, Stuefloten focuses on an America fascinated with violence and fearful of fertility. Invasions, whether military, sexual, or cultural, occur and recur. The fecundity of nature vaguely threatens. Vegetation rots; the earth swells. Bomb blasts resemble flowers bursting open. The title "Maya" refers not only to Meso-American people described in the novel, but also to the Hindu doctrine of the delusory nature of reality. The world, Stuefloten asserts, is mysterious, very beautiful, and very dangerous--and America is more a part of it than we have imagined.
"This first novel from Stuefloten, whose biography includes stints as a smuggler and black marketeer, is disappointing--if only he had drawn more heavily on his past for this tale of violence and sex on a movie set. The book is a series of 36 brief vignettes that begin as "shots" from a film in progress. Stuefloten gradually transforms them into a film-within-a-film and finally into a novel-within-a-novel. The book focuses on an ill-matched trio, an untalented but voluptuous blonde, a failed playwright who in desperation turns to acting and a jaded and aging matinee idol who is losing his looks. The three are stranded somewhere in Mexico making a movie about the Vietnam War. Or is it a movie about being stranded in Mexico making a movie about the Vietnam War? Relentless overwriting, facile philosophizing and an all-too-easy equation of sex and violence ("Semen flew through the air like shrapnel, precious seed spilled like blood . . . .") pervade the book, which only comes alive in the final section, in which Stuefloten reveals his own role in its creation. Suddenly, but briefly, Maya flashes with wit and charm and suggests that its author has talent waiting to emerge more fully."—Publishers Weekly
"Maya, is a disturbing collage of mixed visions with psychedelic qualities.....Stufloeten...sees Ameica with a jaundiced eye that skews reality and perceives normalcy as frightening. The disjointed plot and script-like writing style of Maya takes place on several levels, revealing the author's exceptional powers of description and observation."—Small Press Magazine
Her face is at the window. She withdraws her head. It is the same movement which began the previous scene. Each scene is thus a palimpsest. This cannot be emphasized too much. The whit plumeria glow in this light. The camera moves past them, out the window. The outer world in visible below. It consists of green jungle. There are low hills on all sides. Within view is a large, cross-shaped building. This appears to be a church. One side rises into twin towers, or steepless. We are some distance above the ground, perhaps at the second floor of a hotel. The camera drops. Its movements must be fluid. It descends through the trees. It descends through giant ceibas, or the yax-xheel-cab,known as the first tree of the world. It descends through red zapotes. It descends through red bullet trees. Other trees will be examined later. Closer to the ground, as we move forward, are the black laurel and the white Callisi repens. The camera fluidly conrinues past the ix-batun, the chimchin-chay--it can be boiled, the eaten like cabbage--and the jicama cimarrona, which is eaten only in times of famine. Everywhere are the white plumerias. All throw their shadows directly at the camera: