The Desert Remembers My Name by Kathleen Alcalá
On Family and Writing (Camino Del Sol)

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Synopsis

My parents always told me I was Mexican. I was Mexican because they were Mexican. This was sometimes modified to "Mexican American," since I was born in California, and thus automatically a U.S. citizen. But, my parents said, this, too, was once part of Mexico. My father would say this with a sweeping gesture, taking in the smog, the beautiful mountains, the cars and houses and fast-food franchises. When he made that gesture, all was cleared away in my mind's eye to leave the hazy impression of a better place. We were here when the white people came, the Spaniards, then the Americans. And we will be here when they go away, he would say, and it will be part of Mexico again. Thus begins a lyrical and entirely absorbing collection of personal essays by esteemed Chicana writer and gifted storyteller Kathleen Alcal . Loosely linked by an exploration of the many meanings of "family," these essays move in a broad arc from the stories and experiences of those close to her to those whom she wonders about, like Andrea Yates, a mother who drowned her children. In the process of digging and sifting, she is frequently surprised by what she unearths. Her family, she discovers, were Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition who took on the trappings of Catholicism in order to survive. Although the essays are in many ways personal, they are also universal. When she examines her family history, she is encouraging us to inspect our own families, too. When she investigates a family secret, she is supporting our own search for meaning. And when she writes that being separated from our indigenous culture is "a form of illiteracy," we know exactly what she means. After reading these essays, we find that we have discovered not only why Kathleen Alcal is a writer but also why we appreciate her so much. She helps us to find ourselves.
 

About Kathleen Alcalá

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Kathleen Alcala is a writer whose trilogy on nineteenth centKathleen Alcala is a writer whose trilogy on nineteenth century Mexico was published by Chronicle Books. Her work has reury Mexico was published by Chronicle Books. Her work has received the Western States Book Award, the Governor's Writersceived the Western States Book Award, the Governor's Writers Award, a Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award, and a Washin Award, a Pacific Northwest Bookseller's Award, and a Washington State Book Award. A co-founder and contributing editor gton State Book Award. A co-founder and contributing editor to The Raven Chronicles, Kathleen teaches at the Northwest Ito The Raven Chronicles, Kathleen teaches at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island, a low-residencynstitute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island, a low-residency program. She was recently deemed an Island Treasure by the program. She was recently deemed an Island Treasure by the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council. Kathleen receBainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council. Kathleen received an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Award ived an Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Award for work on her book, Cities of Gold. She is a member of Losfor work on her book, Cities of Gold. She is a member of Los Nortenos writers group. Her work has been produced for publ Nortenos writers group. Her work has been produced for public radio, and she co-wrote, with director Olga Sanchez, a plic radio, and she co-wrote, with director Olga Sanchez, a play based on her novel, Spirits of the Ordinary that was proday based on her novel, Spirits of the Ordinary that was produced by The Miracle Theatre of Portland, Oregon. Kathleen isuced by The Miracle Theatre of Portland, Oregon. Kathleen is the author of a short story collection, MRS. VARGAS AND THE the author of a short story collection, MRS. VARGAS AND THE DEAD NATURALIST, and three novels: Spirits of the Ordinary, DEAD NATURALIST, and three novels: Spirits of the Ordinary, The Flower in the Skull, and Treasures in Heaven. Her colle The Flower in the Skull, and Treasures in Heaven. Her collection of essays, The Desert Remembers My Name is available fction of essays, The Desert Remembers My Name is available from the University of Arizona Press, and her previous books rom the University of Arizona Press, and her previous books are all available in paperback. Her latest story appears in are all available in paperback. Her latest story appears in SEATTLE NOIR from Akashic Books. SEATTLE NOIR from Akashic Books.
 
Published April 26, 2007 by University of Arizona Press. 192 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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