I know, I know, I've said it before -- The House on Mango Street is gorgeous. I'll try not to gush like this about every single book given to me for Christmas by awesome people. Or would it be better if I did? Tough call....
But Sandra Cisneros tells her stories so simply, with short sentences and short vignettes you have to love. Apparently this book is used in classes, and I can totally see why -- I also think adults would really appreciate it, if you want an easy read that's still really good.
Anyway, one of my favourite stories is of Mamacita, whose husband saved and saved money driving taxis to bring her to the United States. And once she got there, to the largely Latino neighbourhood of families trying to find their place, she hated it. She cries and sighs and longs for home. She sings Spanish songs and refuses to learn English and, when anyone comes to her door, she yells only, "He not here," "No speak English," or "Holy smokes."
The story is really just two pages. But it's enough to make you cry.
"Cuando, cuando, cuando?" she asks.
"Ay, caray! We are home. This is home. Here I am and here I stay. Speak English. Speak English. Christ!"
"Ay!" Mamacita, who does not belong, every once in a while lets out a cry, hysterical, high, as if he had torn the only skinny thread that kept her alive, the only road out to that country.
And then to break her heart forever, the baby boy who has begun to talk, starts to sing the Pepsi commercial he heard on TV.
"No speak English," she says to the child who is singing in the language that sounds like tin. "No speak English, no speak English," and bubbles into tears. "No, no, no," as if she can't believe her ears. (p. 78)
[Off topic: For the record, I have high hopes for Canadian television this winter. This is going to sound all patriotic, but the good thing about the American writers' strike is that, if Canadian TV is good, people will turn to it.
Not if everything is Little Mosque on the Prairie, of course, because that show isn't bad but it's not awesome either. But new shows like The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives, or more interesting, jPod, could collect a big audience while Americans promote crappy reality shows like "Bachelor: Geeks Lose Weight" or whatever they plan next.
ANYWAY, I caught the end of jPod tonight, and while I was impressed by the twisty ending, which appeared to feature a group of illegal immigrants packed into a posh Vancouver apartment, I was not impressed by this scripted gem: "You hate metric, too?" "It's the worst."]