The food mentioned in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, is an important part of the setting–it definitely sets the book squarely in New Mexico. And it’s authentic, homemade New Mexican fare–no Frito pies here! However, I do have to admit that I was a little frustrated by it. It’s mentioned so matter-of-factly that […]

In So Far From God by Ana Castillo, is, in many ways a quintessential novel of the Chicano experience, so it’s no surprise that the quintessential Mexican-American legend–La Llorona–appears. The basic legend is that La Llorona–literally the Wailing Woman–is a spirit who wanders–usually at night and usually along water–in search of her lost children. In […]

Names in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, are very important. I mean, you know when three of the four sisters are named Faith (Fe), Hope (Esperanza), and Charity (Caridad)–and their mother is Sophia (Sofi)–that their names are symbolic. Next, add in the fact that the fourth is called Crazy (La Loca)–everyone has called […]

When I was pregnant with my son and taking refresher classes in Spanish in preparation for starting my graduate degree in translation from Spanish to English, I spent 4 weeks in Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Spain (and another 2 weeks touring Spain and Portugal with my husband). We happened to be in Santiago on the […]

There aren’t very many birds in So Far From God by Ana Castillo, but the ones that are mentioned are more than just background fluff. Around the time Sofi decides to run for la mayor of Tome, it’s mentioned that a gringo has bought some land nearby and is raising peacocks. One of the things […]

So Far From God, by Ana Castillo is, on one level, a modern retelling of the story of the Christian saints Faith, Hope, and Charity–the martyred daughters of Sophia–reworked into the American southwest. On the surface it’s a tale of strong women who rise above the men who abandon them or treat them brutally–much as […]

In The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages, the family of main characters visits Trinity–the site of the first atomic explosion. Both parents have been working on the “gadget” as it was referred to (in the book and in real life), and the father had been present on July 16, 1945 for the test itself. […]

I don’t believe women lose their virginity. It implies they can find it again. Nor do I believe people lose their lives–“Whoops! Now where did I put my life…beneath a cushion on the couch? Maybe I left it on the kitchen counter…Honey, have you seen my life? I know I had it a minute ago.”  –The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church

There are some wonderful descriptions of New Mexico in The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church, although I was so captivated by the story that I hardly noticed them the first time around. The Taos Gorge is relatively narrow, darkly shadowed basalt, and so completely impassable that a 1950s-era car remains stranded amidst […]

There are no birds in The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages, but there is a lot to like. As a depiction of Los Alamos during the end stage development of the atomic bomb, it does surprisingly well. None of the characters can really talk about the project openly, but there is still the sense […]