M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Who Are We Are -- And How Do We Get There? -- Bless Me Ultima

   Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya is a classic coming of age story filled with magical realism, where magic is part of the fabric of the normal world touching everyone. That the writing itself is magical is just another literary dimension -- and enjoyment. I could almost see a Jesuit nodding, like a deus machina, in agreement as Antonio, the protagonist, begins to weave various threads gathered from the world around him into who he will become as an adult, making the decisions that favor one possibility over another. But then, I'm weird.

  How weird? I actually miss the summer evenings when the neighborhood ladies, about 3 to 6 depending on the day, would gather after supper and chat -- before TV arrived -- on rotating porch steps. Think teens miss a lot by not hanging on the edges and listening to the mothers chat about the news [gossip] and the events of the day.

   Bless Me Ultima takes place in similar times...before TV, in New Mexico at the end of World War II when Hispanic hamlets were mostly separate from Anglo world, but that didn't mean that conflict didn't exist. The Hispanics separated themselves into different cultural groups too -- those of the plains who herded cattle and farmers, religious and non-religious, traditionalist and more modern. Antonio's parents were rooted in different ways of organizing their lives, between the freedom of the plains and the structure of the farm. Antonio's family was also isolated from the rest of the village by a river because the father grew up on the plains and preferred the freedom of the wind to being cloistered in town.

   All of the above elements create the conflict in six/seven-year-old Antonio's life, and come to a head when the local, elderly curandera, Ultima, comes to live with them --  because the old lady had saved Antonio's mother's life in childbirth, a much more risky endeavor back then, and the family felt obligated to her. Bless Me Ultima chronicles Anotonio's growing awareness of the world around him and how he balances all the elements against the happenings at school, preparing for his First Communion, and the traditions of his people.

   Highly recommended if you haven't read this classic before. I had forgotten how beautifully written the book is. More to my mind, I kept thinking of the imaginary Jesuit sitting in the background, muttering I get him as a priest when he grows up. No such luck, I think. Yeah, a great coming to awareness novel.

You can read more reviews at Amazon and B&N Nook.

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My Writing Rut

   Took it easy this week with Thanksgiving and all. Just spent time "back and forthing", adding bits and On the Run where they were needed, I think. I won't know for sure until I get an ending on it and printed out to actually look at what I wrote. Yeah, my old-fartism [or should I be polite and say "old ladyism"?] influences how I write. I really like looking at screens less and less.

   Also added bits and pieces to several possible short pieces -- Trapper Tremaine, Trial by Lies [set in the early days of Andor], Renna's tales about the early days among the Far Isles Half-Elven, and a sequel to The Ghostcrow. Who knows which one will jell first? Of course, I could do a loop-de-loop and do something entirely different, finish up Black Tail's War, a sequel to Troublesome Neighbors.

Or, I could finish the revisions of There Be Demons,
the first of the Demon Trilogy.

Do I dare think of starting something new from scratch?
Perish the thought.

Feel like I'm sitting in the middle of a puddle of words.

 
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