Imaginary Parents by Sheila Ortiz Taylor

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In this uniquely fashioned memoir, one sister uses words, the other installations to re-create a childhood filled with adventure, tragedy, and the two most glamorous and mysterious people in their young lives: their parents.

The setting is Los Angeles during and after World War Two. Hollywood is defining. Cigarettes ubiquitous. A meal is not a meal without meat or eggs. Red lips, toenails, and fingernails match red cotton blouses festooned with yellow sombreros.

Taking on the voices of her mother, father and sister--as well as speaking for herself--Sheila Ortiz Taylor, the writerly daughter of an Anglo vaudevillian-lawyer and a Chicana movie star manqué, strings together well-crafted vignettes that read like film clips. One scene leads to another, fractures into another until a rich family drama and a remarkably clear child perspective emerge through the silences and substance.

Sandra, the elder, artistic sister, offers 3-D collages in a simultaneous yet slightly shifted narrative of life under their father's red-tiled roof.

Mirrors, tortillas, calaveras, Mexico, horses, books, boats and guns are the curios of the Ortiz Taylor family cabinet. Readers will set to recollecting their own pocadillas after relishing this funny, touching portrait of a regular yet anything but common American family.


About Sheila Ortiz Taylor

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Published October 1, 1996 by Univ of New Mexico Pr. 260 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Each piece resembles a film clip, with the reader/viewer left to interpret its meaning, as in the story titled ""Street Map."" In this dislocated, unsentimental tale, the author describes events as they take place at various locations and the eventual suicide of one of the characters.

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