Such a tightly knit story, I wonder what leads Annecy Báez to her subtitle for her 2007 “My Daughter’s Eyes and Other Stories”? Maybe a woman's life is an assemblage of chapters that, put together, eventually form a coherent body, but one at a time, each event is what it is.
Covering the period between 1972 when the narrator, Mia, is thirteen, and 2000, when Mia’s own daughter is thirteen and a half, seventeen stories trace her life as Mia stumbles her way to sexuality and coming of age, loving her child’s father, and watching her own daughter approach the age when Mia’s life bent its way.
Little Mia has no strong reason to resist the impassioned entreaties of teenaged lothario, Pito. But for at least one story, Mia doesn’t yield to her own curiosity nor Pito’s sales pitch. A few years later, Mia and her mother suffer a huge public blowout over a pair of sexy shoes for Mia’s 15th birthday. Báez begins to weave a cyclic theme here suggested in the title, the world as seen by the daughter through her mother’s eyes. Vice versa can prove as devastating to reader comfort with such intimate looks into this girl's growing up. The mother genuinely fears red shoes will lead to a daughter’s downfall to sins of the flesh. Much of her fear grows from frenzied coital flashbacks competing for the mother’s attention while she’s coming to terms with her daughter’s emergence. The dissonance between the daughter’s hopeful innocence and the heat of the mother's recent passion grows so tremendous, the woman faints. This story closes with a dapper Samaritan closing in on mother and her lithe daughter.
I tell a more lurid version, perhaps it’s the male reader of me. Annecy Báez develops the story of the women in Mia’s family with more subtlety, and a deft woman’s touch. These are the types of stories little girls should read as cautionary tales for certain inevitabilities of their next few years development as women. These are the types of stories little boys should read to walk away with keener insight into the way girls think. Some lessons here would be excellent preparation for the hurdles of courtship rituals. Then there are the assholes. Mix in the efforts of a good class discussion, and reading My Daughter’s Eyes might be one of the best reading experiences in a middle school or high school kid’s so-called life.
Báez’ compelling collection ends on a hopeful note, thankfully. Parental and sexual abuse permeate the story and there’s a suggestion of a ceaseless pattern and ritualized ignorance. But by 2000, a mother has learned her lessons. Her choices have been her choices; leave it to the reader to say they were bad ones. This mother has determined to deal levelheaded with her daughter, aware that a mother’s past need not define the changes a daughter must go through. This mother welcomes such changes, not shuns them. At only 176 pages, some readers will want to read it twice to let some of the points sink in.
My Daughter’s Eyes and Other Stories won the 2007 Marmol Award for First Fiction. Publication of this work, and a cash advance against royalties, recognize Annecy Báez’ accomplishment in joining previous winners include Sylvia Torti - The Scorpion's Tail, 2005, 2004: Mary Helen Lagasse - The Fifth Sun; 2003: Carla Trujillo - What Night Brings; 2002: Lorraine Lopez - Soy La Avon Lady and Other Stories. Marmol did not have a 2006 winner.
Sun., Jan. 13, 2008 2:30 pm
Griots in the Gallery: Aztec Stories
Experience the world of the Mexica/Aztecs through poetry, oral tradition stories, and ballads. Storyteller Michael Heralda shares the history, language, foods, and arts from an indigenous perspective. His performance is enhanced by traditional instruments made by hand, including Mayan Bubalek Gourd Water Drums and numerous flutes, shakers, and rattles,
offering plenty of opportunities for audience participation.
New Review in El Paso paper.
La Bloga friend, poet and critic Rigoberto Gonzalez reviews Grove Press' new release of Francisco Goldman's political title, The bishop's murder. Gonzalez concludes in his 1/6/08 El Paso Times review:
Goldman's skillful and energetic prose gives this exhausting real-life narrative a necessary push. The supplementary sources such as the index, chronology of events and "dramatis personae" are essential for keeping track of the multiple threads explored in this confounding investigation.
"The Art of Political Murder" is also the art of investigative reporting. Goldman works hard to examine even the smallest of details that contributed to this high-profile case, which became a defining moment in reconnecting a wartorn country to its long-threatened notion of justice.
La Bloga welcomes guest columnists, news, ideas, reviews, opinions, recipes, and appropriate
stuff. Our newest La Bloga bloguera, Sunday's Ann Cardinal, joins us after a string of warmly welcomed guest columns. If you've something to share, send an email to a La Bloga bloguera bloguero, click here, or leave a comment below. The only comments we don't welcome are those that go "grate column. Check out my desert acreage site at nowhere.com". Sabes? Hay les wachamos until next Tuesday.