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.
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?