Thursday, October 27, 2016
Beautiful bites of story
You know the phrase "read 'em and weep"? I don't think it's supposed to be literal but that's what happened in Sandra Cisneros' beautiful introduction to the 25th anniversary edition of her lovely book The House on Mango Street. And I don't want you going away under the impression that this was the only place I cried while reading the novel. Throughout there were stunning moments of poignant liminality that just fucking obliterated me. This is the good shit.
It's a novel in the shape of dozens of vignettes, none more than seven pages long, that tells the story of a little family and its inner life. It is knock-down drag-out gorgeous. And it's an incredibly compelling way to craft a novel - the book doesn't have a unified theme, or any one particular plot to tie it together, but instead it's held together by tiny bites of wonder. Each chapter is a piece of art, made to be the utmost that it can be in the small space it's given before bleeding away into another beautiful bite until you reach the end and are sated, having gorged yourself in every moment of the book.
I think I found The House on Mango Street so compelling and addictive because you don't know where it will take you next, whose story will pop up on the next page, how many years will have passed, what color the sky will be. But you know that when you find out it will be transportive and lushly written and invite you into the world of itself and hold you there until the next little world opens up.
Good books take up places in your heart, they fill in the shadows of your memory and live in your thoughts. Great book fix something about you that you didn't know was missing, they change you irrevocably. The House on Mango Street is a Great Book. And I know I've talked a lot this year about books that should be required reading but this is another book getting added to that list. Read it, especially if you want to write.
Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. Vintage Contemporaries. New York: New York. 2009. (1984).