Faye Travers, an estate antiquities expert is startled to hear the sound of a drum as she is cataloging the contents of a house. She follows the sound and finds an Ojibwe painted drum carefully wrapped in a blanket. Moved by the feelings the sound and sight of the drum bring to her, she secrets it away and steals it.
As Louise Erdrichâ€™s masterful storytelling unfolds, the drum too unfolds coming to life as the stories of the lives the drum has touched almost weave themselves into the rich and elegiac tale.
We follow Faye as she deals with her grief in losing her sister and father. She has an oddly touching yet reserved relationship with her lover, the sculptor Kurt Krahe that lives nearby. Her tentative and careful relationship with her mother slowly blossoms into something other as the drum works its magic and brings them to the drumâ€™s home, the Ojibwe reservation and home of her grandmother.
When Faye talks of the frozen and dying apple orchard or of the ravens she loves to watch, I can see and smell the desiccated branches. I hear the ravens call.
The drum sings its song of grief and loss, of the children who died, of the children it saves. The drum and the story are magical, the language of both so elegant, so poignant, so warm.
Wow! This has to have been the most weird, wild and wonderful book Iâ€™ve read in the longest time. The book begins with a boy who creates paper organs to save his butchered cat and becomes the worldâ€™s first origami surgeon. The book goes on to tell of monks in secret factories, a woman of paper, a little girl named Merced and her father who cures himself of sadness by burning his flesh.
Merced and her father Fernando de la Fe leave Mexico and wind up in El Monte, California picking carnations. They encounter gangs, the woman of paper, and a whole assortment of strange and unusual characters. An unlikely war begins against the planet Saturn and the gang members from Monte Flores, led by Fernando.
The People of Paper is violent and bloody, haunting and strangely beautiful. A manâ€™s tongue bleeds and bleeds from paper cuts received while giving a woman of paper cunnilingus, a wife leaves her husband because she is fed up with sleeping in pools of piss, turtles become armored tanks. It is unreal and real, fantastic and sublime.
The book is allegorical, beautifully written and most surprising. There are paper tricks throughout the book as well that normally would annoy me but in this, they just fit so well with the story that I found myself enjoying them hugely. What really surprises me is that this is a debut novel.
Salvador Plascencia was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1976.
When I first heard Isabel Allende had written a novel about Zorro, I went crazy with excitement. Ms. Allende is one of my favorite authors and Zorro, one of my favorite and beloved characters. What a pairing! I wasnâ€™t disappointed. Allendeâ€™s Zorro is wonderful.
Told from the point of view of a close friend of Zorroâ€™s aka Don Diego de la Vega, the novel tells of Zorroâ€™s origins from his birth to his time in Spain to his return to California. Diego is born to Don Alejandro de la Vega and Regina, a mestizo whose real name is Topurnia. The character of Regina is fascinating, she is herself a warrior, chosen by wolves and she meets Don Alejandro while storming the very mission he is there to defend. She teaches the young Diego the language of her people and takes him without her husband knowing to the Indian village where he learns of her peopleâ€™s ways and traditions.
Ms. Allendeâ€™s storytelling leaves no detail unturned, we meet Diegoâ€™s milk brother Bernardo and learn of their strong bond of friendship, and we travel to Spain, a Spain during the Napoleonic era. Diego is wonderfully complex in learning to live with his duality both as Diego/Zorro and as a Spanish hidalgo/indigenous man. His concept of honor is developed early, his love for his motherâ€™s people is deep, and his horror at the way the Dons treat indigenous people is captured perfectly by the author.
We learn of his instruction in swordsmanship by the famed Escalante, which eventually leads to the joining of a secret society. There is intrigue, travel, romance, and betrayal. We even get to meet the famed pirate Jean Lafitte.
Isabel Allende offers a fresh, action-packed new dimension to her Zorro and he crackles with his new life in this fantastic and swashbuckling novel.
Villa and Zapata!
Those two generales so huge a part of our history, so often wondered about, quoted and misquoted, understood and misunderstood are brought to life in this book by Frank McLynn.
I bought the book for research and as part of my quest for a better understanding of the Mexican Revolution and was not disappointed. The book chronicles the Mexican Revolution, the beginnings of these two men who went on to become so much larger than life. McLynn also portrays many of the key players, like Porfirio Diaz, Francisco Madero, Pascual Orozco and others known and less known. There are maps, photos and details from documents.
He manages to give the reader an insight into what it must have been like living in that time, to get to know almost personally these men and what drove them, what motivated them into their roles in this very important part of Mexican history and how they changed not only their world, but the world as a whole, how they are even now influencing us. It reads more like a thrilling novel than a history and I couldnâ€™t put it down.
I learned about Zapata and his sense of style, his brother Eufemio, his uncanny ability with horses, how he studied all the historical documents of Anenecuilco and other fascinating facts such as how an American woman who ran a hotel called him â€œThe Attila of the Southâ€. Each chapter is vividly written, chronicled in such a comprehensive and fascinating way that I couldnâ€™t get enough of it. The book is like water to the thirsty.
I read of the battles, large and small, victories and crushing defeats, of betrayal, of in-fighting, of women and men who had such passion for their convictions, for their land, for the cause they were fighting for. There is no glorification. McLynn ensures that the faults of both men are just as clearly delineated as their greatness.
For lovers of history, for someone with even the slightest interest in either of these men or the time they lived in, this is a treasure of information. I encourage everyone to buy this book, read it and then read it again.
To me there is no greater woman journalist than Mexicoâ€™s beloved Elena Poniatowska. Every book I read of hers touches me in so many ways. This book in particular haunts my days and nights. Nothing, Nobody is the chronicle of the earthquake in September of 1985 that devastated Mexico City.
It is the story of the search for bodies amongst the rubble and the Mexican governmentâ€™s failure to respond. There is such poignancy in the writing, the post-earthquake testimonies from survivors, from aid workers and most of all, from the people who never did find their loved ones. It is a story of the heroism that exists in even the most insignificant of us. There is courage in the face of disaster, hope and hopelessness.
As if the testimonies and the stories in this book werenâ€™t enough to touch the heart, to outrage the mind, there are photos of the devastation, of the faces of the people, of the tears.
Ms. Poniatowska weaves together each story with her usual mastery. She is able to put a face on the side of Mexico that gets shoved under the carpet â€“ the poor Mexican. This book was written pre-Zapatista uprising and I feel that by reading Elena Poniatowskaâ€™s fascinating chronicles of important events in the years leading up to it, we can all better understand why the Zapatista movement had to happen. There are many books about it and many opinions on why â€“ but I think that all we need to do is read books like this to see the face of the forgotten, to feel their pain and frustration, to know them intimately. Once we do that, there is no need to suppose or wonder about the worthiness of the fight against oblivion â€“ we just know.