the book I didn’t write …

September 15, 2009 § 14 Comments


Cisneros’s guardian angel slipped this slim book into my hand and said “Buy it and read it” and I said, “I’m not into this kind of book” and the angel smacked me upside the head and said “Do what I say. Read this.”

So I did. 
I discovered that this is a book I would write, would like to write, in fact did try something like it but it fell so short, I don’t think I even kept it which is saying something because you would be surprised at all the claptrap that I do keep or save. 

This book has life. It has pop, and poetry. Cisneros IS Mexican and she DOES have an edge that my vanilla WASP bit could not lend to such a book.  She puts a twist on ordinary language, curls a phrase around a sentence with perfect timing, matches up things that don’t match into some poetic way but it’s nothing  like fantasy or Spanish myth and magic. It’s all very simple. Clean. Funny. Heartbreaking. Cisneros gets right, absolutely right, in her slim little book that is so, so big. You can’t imagine.

If you haven’t read this, this compendium of short chapters about the neighborhood in which our heroine Esperanza is growing up and turning into a woman and watching her neighbors and their habits, each nutshelled into a  2-3 page chapters, give it read. Don’t cheat. Don’t try to start and finish it all while standing in the bookstore or in the cafe area. Because you could, you know.

Esperanza is so many of us as she eats her brought-from-home-lunch;  as she jump ropes with her friends and discovers that with their impending shapeliness, they are  leaving her little sister behind in the world of “play” while they talk about boys; as she observes the single choice made by a slow neighbor to stay single; as she sees another neighbor go in and out of his apartment at different times with different women; as she tries on high heel shoes and men notice her and she returns the shoes to the closet….all of it, all of it is us at some point in our growing up, rich poor spanish english italian happy confused euphoric curious… it is each of us.  

The book is in some ways the new A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN.  But not really.
Check it out.
Own it.
You’re in it.
BTW, it’s fiction.

Really, if you wrote your own coming of age in 100 pages or so, what would the title be?


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§ 14 Responses to the book I didn’t write …

  • ds says:

    It is a wonderful, wonderful book. So glad you listened to your guardian angel. You describe it perfectly, my reading writer friend!

  • shoreacres says:

    Esperanza is one of my favorite Spanish words. I love the way it rolls off the tongue – hope, expectation, with a lilt and a bit of flavor.

    It resonates in another way. “Esperanza” is the name of a floral decal used by a multitude of American pottery manufacturers, particularly 1930-1950. It’s a slightly overblown collection of roses, violets, strawflowers and assorted other blooms that can be found on dinnerware, cache pots, vases, candlesticks, lamp bases – anything you can stick a decal on, they did.

    As you describe the book, it seems as though it would be filled with the essence of hope and the extravagance of the floral bouquet. Extravagant hope is never a bad thing, and it would be fun to read the book to test the hypothesis.

    As for that coming of age book, I have a title for mine – “Watching the Rainbows Dissolve”.

  • Lisa says:

    I have almost bought this book so many times. Sounds like I need to actually go through with it & buy it next time I pick it up!

    Hmmm… it’s tough to come up with a title for a coming of age book. Maybe it would be “It’s not always about you” but that is pretty crappy. I think selecting a title would be so dang tough!

  • jeanie says:

    I’ve not heard of her or it, so thank you! Right now I can’t even think of a title! But I’ll work onit! (Have I come of age? Or “of an age…”?

  • Joseph says:

    An inspiring review. Thank you. I’ll read it.

  • Becca says:

    I loved this book when I read it years ago, but it definitely bears re-reading. Cisneros has such a unique voice…I wish she had written more.

  • Care says:

    I’m so glad I read this! It was one of those that popped up on so many ‘should read’ lists and I didn’t know anything about it. LOVED it.

  • anno says:

    One of my favorites! Your post, I think, finds its heart. You certainly found the perfect background for its portrait.

  • typehype says:

    I enjoy reading your blog and like your review of Cisneros’ colorful book. I made a mental note to pick it up and read it again. I love her poems, too. In one of them, she’d described a lover as: “Acapulco cliff-diver corazon!” Wow.

  • Bellezza says:

    As the two rather ridiculous comments that I left on your list show, I loved this book. It does remind me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, now that you mention it. I wonder if it speaks to us because we are girls or because the writing of each is so spectacular. I suspect a bit of both.

  • oh says:

    Dear B, I am so glad to hear from you and all your comments – I know you have been incredibly busy and your blog is as full and rich as ever.
    I will stop by and let you know about my Manga (finally!) purchase. Bon Weekend!

  • madeleine says:

    Thank-you for visiting my blog and feeding my fishes:D

    I am making a note of this novel.

    I like the expression ” You’re in it ” it is so true how books often speak to us, those are the best ones to read, they reaffirm us.

    Have a lovely Sunday

  • damyantig says:

    Must look this up, also because I know someone who is writing just such a book

  • yolanda says:

    It is on my to read list. I love books about the latin culture.

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