Rev. of Blood Sugar Canto by ire’ne lara silva

Original post by Rodney Gomez found here:–irene-lara-silva—blood-sugar-canto.html

Filled with powerful narratives, Blood Sugar Canto by ire’ne lara silva grapples with the enormity of diabetes and its many complications. Written without capitals or punctuation, the collection moves with a frantic pace that mirrors the speaker’s preoccupation with health, illness, and dying. In “en trozos/in pieces” she confesses her fear of being eaten away, bit by bit, but learns through suffering to love the body being consumed. A similar embrace of the wounded form reappears in various guises throughout the collection.

Silva masterfully connects the speaker’s trauma with both a collective, colonized past and personal history. More than just a rumination on a personal body, the collection also addresses larger concerns, including how horrendous the nation’s health system can be to people of color. Rather than accepting defeat by diabetes, the speaker insists on thriving and deploys every weapon in her arsenal to combat it—rage, anger, acceptance, and ultimately love. In “the world is medicine” she reflects on how healing can grow from connectivity to a larger world: “never forget / the ocean lives inside us / the rivers take us / where our ancestors / walked”. It is in beautifully understated lines like these that the collection’s wisdom resides, dissolving the monstrosity of a killer disease into a mutualism that reflects the speaker’s insistence on surviving.
ire’ne lara silva is the author of furia (2010) and flesh to bone (2013), which won the Premio Aztlan. She is a CantoMundo fellow, member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, and recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award (2014).

Blood Sugar Canto is published by Saddle Road Press. Click here to purchase.


My Summer Reading List

As summer comes to an end, I thought I would share what I read. There is a selfish reason to this – my short term memory is not what it once was and I simply want to remember what it is that I read. But I read some good books along the way as well, so I’ll try to highlight those. Not all of these books are U.S. Latino. Without further adieu and probably not in the actual order that I read it…

  1. Rudolfo Anaya – The Sorrows of Young Alfonso – Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Anaya writes a book about a young man who befriends a curandera while living in the llano of New Mexico. Yet, The Sorrows breaks considerably from Bless Me, Ultima and looks more and more like a fictionalized version of Anaya’s life. This might be for hardcore Anaya fans only.
  2. David Toscana – El ejercito iluminado  – a novel about 4 misguided youths and one bitter ex-history teacher who hope to reclaim Texas for Mexico. If you read Spanish and can track it down, it’s a must. Great moments of laughter.
  3. Francisco Rojas Gonzalez – La negra Angustias – a historical fiction about an Afro-Mexicana who fought in the Mexican Revolution!? Yes, please!
  4. Craig Thompson – Blankets – A wonderful graphic novel about adolescence set in the blistery cold of Wisconsin.
  5. Ethan Hawke (yes the actor) – Indeh – a graphic novel about the Apache wars in New Mexico. Beautiful artwork, but the story reads somewhat disjointed in moments. There’s also the whole Ethan Hawke telling the story of Geronimo aspect to it as well.
  6. Americo Paredes – With his pistol in His Hand – Non-fiction study of historical exchanges between Texas Rangers and Mexican Americans. Focus is on the legend of Gregorio Cortez. The second part of the book turns its attention to the origins of the Mexican corrido. Dense, interesting, informative.
  7. Rudolfo Anaya – Serafina’s Stories – A re-telling of 1001 Arabian Nights set in New Mexico on the verge of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680. These short stories are some of Anaya’s best. If you’ve read Bless Me, Ultima, Heart of Aztlan, Tortuga, and Alburquerque and want more Anaya, start here.
  8. Adolfo Bioy Casares – La invencion de Morel – one of the best love stories I’ve ever read. This was my fourth time reading it and still love it. Plus, it’s under 100 pages!
  9. Adolfo Bioy Casares – Plan de evasion – Another great exploration of the human psyche.
  10. Juan Carlos Onetti – El pozo – I wanted to read an Uruguayan novelist and had this book laying around. I can’t say I regret reading it, but I’m not recommending it either. There’s some existential angst involved.
  11. Isabel Allende – Zorro – Easily the best book I read this summer. A wonder re-imagining of Zorro’s origins that takes you from Alta California to Barcelona to New Orleans. Well written and executed.
  12. Carmen Tafolla – Curandera – One of her finest books of poetry. This was on the banned reading list in Arizona which is a shame, because her imagery is quite lovely.
  13. Daniel Olivas – Crossing the Border – Like Tafolla’s Curandera, this is another enjoyable collection of poetry that discusses the Chicanx experience. While Tafolla’s poetry is linked to San Antonio, the majority of Olivas’s poetry finds its home in California.
  14. Arnoldo de Leon – Mexican Americans in Texas – A brief, but informative historical account of Mexican American life in Texas from Mexican colonial days to the 1990s.
  15. Cleofas Jaramillo – Shadows of the Past – a memoir that discusses life in northern New Mexico and how it has changed through Americanization.
  16.  Oliver La Farge – Behind the Mountains – Another book focused on the lost community of northern New Mexico. Set in the first half of the 20th century.
  17. Juan Rulfo – Pedro Paramo – one of the absolute classics of Mexican literature. Second time reading it, and more enjoyable than the first.
  18. Las malvinas: El sur, el mar, el frio – a graphic novel that studies the psychological impact of the Falkland Islands War between Britain and Argentina in the 1980s. One of my favorite books that I read this summer. Beautiful artwork, beautiful poetry, and chilling stories that reflect collective trauma.

Well folks, thanks for indulging me some with this list. See anything that tickles your fancy? Tell me, what have you been reading this summer?!