Anthropologies by Beth Alvarado
A Family Memoir (Sightline Books)

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A vivid archive of memories, Beth Alvarado’s Anthropologies layers scenes, portraits, dreams, and narratives in a dynamic cross-cultural mosaic. Bringing her lyrical tenor to bear on stories as diverse as harboring teen runaways, gunfights with federales, and improbable love, Alvarado unveils the ways in which seemingly separate moments coalesce to forge a communal truth. Woven from the threads of distinct family histories and ethnic identities, Anthropologies creates a heightened understanding of how individual experiences are part of a larger shared fabric of lives.

 Like the opening of a series of doors, each turn of the page reveals some new reality and the memories that emerge from it. Open one door and you are transported to a modest Colorado town in 1966, appraising animal tracks edged into a crust of snow while listening to stories of Saipan. Open another and you are lounging in a lush Michoacán hacienda, or in another, the year is 1927 and you are standing on a porch in Tucson, watching La Llorona turn a corner.  With vivid imagery and a poetic sensibility, Anthropologies reenacts the process of remembering and so evokes a compelling narrative. Each snapshot provides a glimpse into the past, illuminating the ways in which memory and history are intertwined. Whether the experience is of her own drug use or that of a great-great-grandmother’s trek across the Great Plains with Brigham Young, Alvarado’s insight into the binding nature of memory illuminates a new way of understanding our place within families, generations, and cultures.



About Beth Alvarado

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 Beth Alvarado is the author of Not a Matter of Love, winner of the Many Voices Project Award, the fiction editor for CUTTHROAT: A Journal of the Arts, and co-writer of the screenplay In Need of a Heart. Recent short stories and essays have appeared in Sonora Review, Third Coast, Nimrod, Western Humanities Review, Cimarron Review, and Ploughshares. She teaches at the University of Arizona, where she received her MFA in fiction.
Published September 3, 2011 by University Of Iowa Press. 182 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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This highly personal work weaves together stories of her parents' lives as well as her own experiences with love, familial attachment, heroin addiction, motherhood, travel and her writing.

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Publishers Weekly

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Sparked by her mother's deterioration into old age, Alvarado (Not a Matter of Love) has written a three-part memoir about her family life that approaches prose poetry.

Jul 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Anthropologies: A Family Memo...

It reads the way we think — in short ideas and snapshots, making it easy to slip right into the plot and become immersed in it.

Dec 03 2011 | Read Full Review of Anthropologies: A Family Memo...

Newcity Lit

Alvarado writes, “I was a traveler, only half in the world, recording, remembering what I could see, relying on images.” Now, Alvarado has the ability to put to words her feelings of in-betweenness, being stuck in the cross-cultural crossfires of white, Mexican and hippie life.

Nov 14 2011 | Read Full Review of Anthropologies: A Family Memo...

Hippocampus Magazine

Alvarado takes us on a journey, running away at the age of sixteen to move in with her boyfriend and his family, then marriage, drug addiction, rehabilitation, motherhood, and gang-wars, to her successful emergence as a college professor.

Feb 29 2012 | Read Full Review of Anthropologies: A Family Memo...

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