Synopses & Reviews
When his father died, Harrison Candelaria Fletcher wasnand#8217;t quite two. His mother packed up his fatherand#8217;s belongings, put the boxes in a hall closet, and closed the door. The and#8220;man in a boxand#8221; remained a mystery, hardly mentioned, and making only rare appearances in stories when Fletcher or his siblings inquired. Meanwhile, his young Hispanic mother transformed herself into an artist, scouting the back roads and secondhand shops of New Mexico for relics and unlikely treasures to add to her and#8220;little shrines,and#8221; or descansos. and#8220;Look closely,and#8221; sheand#8217;d say to her son. and#8220;Everything tells a story.and#8221;and#160;
This book is Fletcherand#8217;s literary descanso, a piecing togetherand#8212;from moments and objects and wordsand#8212;of a fatherand#8217;s life, of the life lived without that father, and of his own mixed-race identity. Fletcherand#8217;s reflections unfold like a collage, offering a rich array of images and stories of life with his single mother, organizing weekend family car trips to explore graveyards and adobe ruins; of growing up on the fault lines of class and culture; of being a father who never had one of his own to learn from. From incidents and observations, Fletcher assembles a beautifully crafted portrait of his familyand#8217;s unspoken affliction with loss over the decades, a portrait that finally evokes the father at its heart.
“An extraordinary collection of testimonies. There is plenty of honesty and no pretension in the voices included in Wise Latinas
. These essays elicit the gamut of emotions from the reader, from chuckles to gasps to tears. An excellent anthology.”—Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
“On the most fundamental level, Wise Latinas
aims to provide models for other Latinas. . . . [It was] a joy to read this book, and a reminder of the footsteps that we all trace.”—Marta Caminero-Santangelo, author of On Latinidad: U.S. Latino Literature and the Construction of Ethnicity
"The abundance of high-quality material makes the book hard to put down."—Kirkus
"[Wise Latinas] holds relevance for any young person setting out of their homes for the first time."—Ru Freeman, Huffington Post
"An homage not only to his dad but to Harrison's own boyhood joys, sorrows and searching, the book makes clear the author's expansive literary sensibilities."and#8212;Kirkus Reviews
"Fletcher's prose is simply gorgeous, and Albuquerque's cultural heritage is richly depicted in this book of essays, which adds to our understanding of family, landscape and their role in the formation of identity. An exquisite literary debut."and#8212;Rigoberto Gonzalez, El Paso Times
"Ultimately it is language and a sharp eye for detail, not suspense, that pulls the reader along. . . . In a memoir-drenched era of publishing, Descanso is refreshing."and#8212;Jana Fornario, Southwestern American Literature
"Descanso for My Father is laced with stories about people encountering ghosts. Candelaria Fletcher may not be clairvoyant, but he conjures up the spirits of his ancestors in this unusual and moving book."and#8212;Jenny Shank, High Country News
andquot;Like the dreamlike shadowboxes of Joseph Cornell, Fletcher assembles scraps of imagery and inherited keepsakes into an enchanting quest to understand his family's stories. . . . In the same way a painter applies the principles of negative space to a composition, Fletcher, who understands the endless possibilities of the essay form, relies on memory and observation, while safeguarding the sense of absence, the space of silence in his prose.andquot;andmdash;Jericho Parms, Rumpus
and#8220;Fletcher deftly shows us the meaning of the word and#8216;questand#8217;and#8212;investigation, dream, and religious pursuit all cohere around the essential mystery of one manand#8217;s life. In the process, the author faces his own relics, making a large picture out of the bright shards of memory and uncertainty.and#8221;and#8212;Judith Kitchen, author of Distance and Direction
College can be a complex time for Latinas, who are traditionally expected to leave home when they get married. In her essay “Only Daughter,” author Sandra Cisneros remarks, “After four years in college and two more in graduate school, and still no husband, my father shakes his head even now and says I wasted all that education.”
Wise Latinas is a collection of personal essays addressing the varied landscape of the Latina experience in higher education. For some Latinas, college, where they are vastly underrepresented, is the first time they are immersed in American culture outside their homes—and where the values of two cultures often clash. Wise Latinas is in part a response to this widening gap.
Featuring acclaimed writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Norma Cantú, and Julia Alvarez, to name a few, Wise Latinas shows that there is no one Latina college experience. With thoughtful and engaging pieces, Wise Latinas provides a platform for Latina writers to share their experiences in higher education and gives a voice to the many Latina women who have taken risks; embraced the new, confronted change; and maintained (and in some cases found) their roots.
About the Author
Harrison Candelaria Fletcher teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the winner of a New Letters Literary Award, High Desert Journal Obsidian Prize,and#160;Pushcart Prize Special Mention, and has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and PEN Center Literary Award.