Marissa Rodriguez

Cuentos: Favorite Short Story Collections

I just finished another re-reading of Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros. One of the things I love most about the book is how each short story unfolds, slowly revealing more about the narrator of each story and how they look at the world they have created for themselves – everything with a bit of magic, heaps of intuition and sight that extends beyond what they eyes can see.

Human beings pass me on the street, and I want to reach out and strum them as if they were guitars. Sometimes all of humanity strikes me as lovely. — Never Marry a Mexican, Woman Hollering Creek

The poetry and timelessness of the book inspired me to dig through my boxes and shelves to rediscover other long-loved short story collections. However brief the read, their stories will stay with you. Here are three books to treasure:

Border-Line Personalities

Border-Line Personalities: A New Generation of Latinas Dish on Sex, Sass, and Cultural Shifting

My mother and aunties advised me against dating any Latin American, even the kind they married. They constructed a careful list of what worked: A Latino with a college degree works best, but choose white over black since no one sees the diploma on the street, in churches or at the supermercados. Forget Caribbean men.– Esos No Sirven by Daisy Hernández, Border-Line Personalities

Published in 2004, this collection of honest, raw and touching short stories by then-young Latina writers was edited by Michelle Herrera Mulligan, a Chicagoan and now the editor of Cosmo for Latinas, and Robyn Moreno, a native San Antonian and former magazine editor.

The young writers describe things many of my generation dealt with — feeling like a foreigner in the country you grew up in; wanting to get the hell out of your hometown only to come back years later; getting your picture taken at Glamour Shots. Their stories are touching, funny and tragic, as the women try to figure out who they are and whether they accept or reject the standard of womanhood that was passed down to them from their mothers.

Floricanto, Sí

Floricanto, Sí

Behind the light
a woman follows;
she opens the earth,
caresses it,
because she does not want
to miss the route …

— One Woman’s Journey by Maya Islas, Floricanto, Sí

A gorgeous book of poetry from Latina writers, Floricanto, Sí is the kind of book that will leave you feeling dreamy days after putting it down. You don’t want to read this fast, this is a book meant to savor, to devour slowly.

It counts some super star writers like Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Gloria Anzaldúa, as well as less well-known poets. But, each poem wrestles with identity, love, loss, dreams that never realized and those that did.

Count on Me

Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships

Mami’s three comadres in Barrio Macún have passed away, but their lessons of camaraderie, generosity, faith, and wry humor continue to inspire me. Having had them in my life, I knew how crucial it was for women to join in solidarity, to work toward common goals, to find comfort in each other. — Las Comais By Esmeralda Santiago, Count on Me

Through this collection of 12 stories from Latinas, and one Latino, writers, Count on Me reveals the best and the worst of relationships between comadres. It’s also an exploration of the word itself. Comadres, to the women who have them, are more than female friends – they are a kindred spirit with whom they’ve shared joys, sorrows, jealousies, and love. They may not stay for long, but the impact of their presence is forever.

Edited by Adriana Lopez for the organization Las Comadres para las Americas (founded by Austinite Nora de Hoyos Comstock, PhD.), the book treats readers to personal cuentos from Fabiola Santiago, Chef Daisy Martinez, Reyna Grande, Luis Alberto Urrea and many others, about how these most treasured relationships have touched their lives.

Lead image by Andrada Radu via Creative Commons

© 2014 Modern Tejana LLC, All Rights Reserved

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