Assembling My Atheneum: Sandra Cisneros
If I had unlimited funds, which authors would I want to see filling my bookshelves? That question originally arose from my musings about my home library, and I decided to start a new series to answer it. In Assembling My Atheneum, I’ll discuss the authors whose entire works I’d love to possess, as well as which books of theirs I’ve read, which I already own, and which I’d recommend to those wanting to give them a try. If you’re curious, you can see everyone I’ve featured so far.
It’s been far too long since I did one of these posts! They’re so fun to write, I’m not sure how I fell out of the habit. They’re even more relevant now, because I’m buying about $10 worth of used books monthly, and am thus actually (slowly) building my dream library, which is thrilling and agonising all at once. Today, I thought I’d feature a writer associated with south Texas, and talk about my love for Sandra Cisneros.
Thanks to my book blog, I know that I first read Cisneros in the fall of 2007, when I picked up The House on Mango Street as part of Banned Books Week. I loved it, for the writing style, for the deeply true portrayal Ezperanza, the young girl narrator, just for everything about it. Being me, it took me two and a half years to read another of her books, but I connected even more deeply with Caramelo, a sprawling, maternal family epic that took me from Chicago to San Antonio to Mexico City and back with ease. Finally, last year I read her short story collection Women Hollering Creek and loved that too. Sadly, she’s not a prolific writer, there’s only one other novel of her back list that I’ve yet to read: Have You Seen Marie?. She does also have two poetry collections published: My Wicked, Wicked Ways and Loose Women. I’ve just recently begun to read poetry, and since I love her prose style so much, I’m sure once I work up the courage I’ll connect with her poems as well. She doesn’t have any essay collections, but I’m secretly hoping one will appear one of these days. I’m sure it would be marvelous.
I don’t actually own any of her books, which is a shame! I’m hoping since she’s fairly well known and has strong Texan roots, I’ll come across one or two at a thrift store or library sale. If not, I’ll simply have to add her to one of my orders from Better World Books: I’ll probably buy Caramelo first, since I love big novels so much.
If you’ve yet to read Cisneros, and you love literary fiction or precocious teenage girl narrators or immigrant stories or Chicano lit, you’re missing out! If like me you can’t resist a longer, multigenerational novel, begin with Caramelo. If you’d like to try her but can never find much time to devote to reading, The House on Mango Street can be finished in an afternoon and rewards the reader as much as a bigger book. That would also be an excellent choice for anyone who works with Latin@ children or loves modern classics. Have You Seen Marie? is also slim and has an adult protagonist, if you prefer them; I haven’t read it yet but it’s described as a “fable for adults” and looks like it will especially appeal to cat lovers. Finally, if you’re a short story afficiando or live in south Texas and are longing for some local flavour, Women Hollering Creek is excellent.
Have you read Cisneros? What’s your favourite? Don’t you wish she’d written tons of novels?