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Still Water Saints

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Fresh, magical, beautiful, evocative" says Lisa See, about this wonderful first novel by Alex Espinoza. Still Water Saints chronicles a momentous year in the life of Agua Mansa, a largely Latino town beyond the fringes of Los Angeles and home to the Botánica Oshún, where people come seeking charms, herbs, and candles. Above all, they seek the guidance of Perla Portillo, the shop’s owner. Perla has served the community for years, arming her clients with the tools to overcome all manner of crises, large and small. There is Juan, a man coming to terms with the death of his father; Nancy, a recently married schoolteacher; Shawn, an addict looking for peace in his chaotic life; and Rosa, a teenager trying to lose weight and find herself. But when a customer with a troubled and mysterious past arrives, Perla struggles to help and must confront both her unfulfilled hopes and doubts about her place in a rapidly changing world.

Imaginative, inspiring, lyrical, and beautifully written, Still Water Saints evokes the unpredictability of life and the resilience of the spirit through the journeys of the people of Agua Mansa, and especially of the one woman at the center of it all. Theirs are stories of faith and betrayal, love and loss, the bonds of family and community, and the constancy of change.

Review:

"Perla Portillo, 72, owns the unofficial spiritual center of the Southern California Agua Mansa community: at Botanica Oshun, she doles out relics, potions and sage advice to clients coping with death, wrestling with transsexual identity and seeking refuge from sexual predation. In telling their stories, Espinoza skillfully weaves together the alternating narrative viewpoints of Perla and her customers. Poignantly rendered are Az car, a transgendered dancer who is given an unexpected chance at motherhood while mourning the loss of a friend, and Rodrigo Zamora, a Michoac n teen illegal recovering from a traumatic crossing. Encroaching violence in the community shakes Perla's confidence in the talismanic power of her wares and words. The significance of her constant presence amid the changing situation is clear to many of her returning customers, but Perla must redefine her position within the community in order to find strength to change along with the world. The parade of affliction can get wearisome, and Espinoza, making his debut, doesn't quite bring Perla all the way into focus. But he handles the proceedings with a steady, well-rounded reportage that suits the story." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Planting his literary flag firmly in shaky California ground, Alex Espinoza has set his first novel in a place he calls Agua Mansa ('still water'). Loosely modeled on the city of Colton, it's an urban fragment tucked into the sprawling area known as the Inland Empire, located an hour or so east of Los Angeles at the intersection of the I-10 and the 215 freeways and flanked by the larger communities... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"As perfect as the beads of a rosary." Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

Review:

"A well-crafted collection of vignettes, neatly stitched together." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Espinoza is a refreshing new writer." Booklist

Review:

"Despite its flaws, it plunges you into a community that reminds us that all communities, no matter what their ethnic makeup, experience many of the same dilemmas and challenges." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Still Water Saints is charming, yet its charm is an uneasy one. Its whimsy has teeth. And that is, absolutely, a compliment." Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico, the youngest of eleven children. At the age of two, he migrated to southern California with his family and grew up in the city of La Puente, a suburb of Los Angeles. Earning a B.A. from the University of California at Riverside with honors, Espinoza went on to receive an MFA from UC Irvine, where he was the editor of the university's literary magazine. He now teaches creative writing at UC Riverside. Still Water Saints is his first novel.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400065394
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
Random House
Author:
Espinoza, Alex
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Stores, retail
Subject:
California, Southern
Publication Date:
20070130
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.40x6.36x.85 in. 1.13 lbs.

Related Subjects

» Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Still Water Saints
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 256 pages Random House - English 9781400065394 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Perla Portillo, 72, owns the unofficial spiritual center of the Southern California Agua Mansa community: at Botanica Oshun, she doles out relics, potions and sage advice to clients coping with death, wrestling with transsexual identity and seeking refuge from sexual predation. In telling their stories, Espinoza skillfully weaves together the alternating narrative viewpoints of Perla and her customers. Poignantly rendered are Az car, a transgendered dancer who is given an unexpected chance at motherhood while mourning the loss of a friend, and Rodrigo Zamora, a Michoac n teen illegal recovering from a traumatic crossing. Encroaching violence in the community shakes Perla's confidence in the talismanic power of her wares and words. The significance of her constant presence amid the changing situation is clear to many of her returning customers, but Perla must redefine her position within the community in order to find strength to change along with the world. The parade of affliction can get wearisome, and Espinoza, making his debut, doesn't quite bring Perla all the way into focus. But he handles the proceedings with a steady, well-rounded reportage that suits the story." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "As perfect as the beads of a rosary."
"Review" by , "A well-crafted collection of vignettes, neatly stitched together."
"Review" by , "Espinoza is a refreshing new writer."
"Review" by , "Despite its flaws, it plunges you into a community that reminds us that all communities, no matter what their ethnic makeup, experience many of the same dilemmas and challenges."
"Review" by , "Still Water Saints is charming, yet its charm is an uneasy one. Its whimsy has teeth. And that is, absolutely, a compliment."
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