Faults: A Novel (Djuna Books)

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9781555834784: Faults: A Novel (Djuna Books)
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Chapter Three

December 31: Morning

Toni

A monotonous hum wakes me, but I'm afraid to open my eyes to verify my surroundings. I lie still. Am I on the train? Did I simply dream I came home? I am stationary, not rocking with the ceaseless motion of the railway car. I smell coffee and the down-home aroma of freshly made tortillas de harina. If Mama is here, she is being unnaturally quiet.

I wonder if the continuous mechanical sound is the echo of the Santa Monica Freeway a few blocks south. As if to test my speculation, the hum intensifies, falters, wheezes, grows monotonous again. It is much too close to be the freeway. Eyes closed, I reach one hand behind me to feel the rough plaster of the bedroom wall. It's warm to the touch, and it vibrates. The hum must be coming from Mama's ancient refrigerator on the other side of the wall. Her duplex is noisy, creaky, unlike the unyielding silence of Amanda's cabin.

I snuggle within the fragrant scent of pink flannel sheets. Mama has made the extra bedroom cozy, tempting me to stay. When I turned in last night, I found a bouquet of daisies beside the bed, before the framed picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Little sachet packets lay in the dresser drawers, and cedar blocks in the narrow closet. Mama has welcomed me into her home.

She has been lonely since my father's death. Realizing that, I try to understand why my sister Sylvia and her brute of a husband are living next door. No matter how much I rationalize Mama's circumstances, I still resent my sister's proximity. She must have manipulated Mama's emotions with a familiar tactic: a hard-luck story. At least I have heard nothing from Sylvia--yet.

Rolling my head on the pillow, I notice my hair is still damp. Last night, following Gabi's suggestion, I took a relaxing soak and shampooed and conditioned my hair, mostly to avoid arguing with Mama about Sylvia. Before I escaped to the bathroom, Gabi seemed eager to leave. She knew I was tired from the trip and promised to see me over the weekend. I half-hoped she would offer me an alternate place to stay, but I didn't want to impose on her and her father. Jeff doesn't need to be reminded of Sylvia anyway.

I reluctantly get up. The tedious

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly:

Feminist writer de la Pe?a (Margins) attempts, with mixed results, to give voice to five different Latina women linked by blood or love, each struggling with her own emotional baggage. After 18 unhappy months living with an old college girlfriend in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, where she retreated after losing her job as a librarian, 40-year-old Toni Dorado is returning to Los Angeles. Her mother, Adela, and college-aged niece, Gabriela, are eager to welcome Toni home, but Toni's estranged sister, Sylvia, is less enthusiastic, as is activist Pat Ramos, Toni's abandoned ex. These womenAwho speak and think in varying degrees of convincing SpanglishAnarrate by turns, but their credibility suffers when they rattle off sound bites about spousal abuse, underrepresentation of minorities in the media, or spout stock phrases from self-help books. As one-dimensional as the narrators can be, the supporting cast is even worse: Sylvia's wife-beating husband, Zalo, is one muy macho Chicano, smashing every object in sight while growling threats and insults. Gabriela is understandably eager to get her mom away from her evil stepdad, and Toni campaigns against Zalo, too; Adela, who accepts Toni's lesbianism in spite of being a devout Catholic, balks at breaking up Sylvia's marriage. Meanwhile, Toni is trying to get back together with Pat, who is justifiably ticked off at having been dumped the year before for Toni's Anglo old flame. After the Northridge earthquake, during which bad people are conveniently punished, most conflicts are neatly resolved. One wishes that de la Pe?a had gone beyond stock situations and characters and really probed the heart of her community.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist:

Homesick Toni Dorado leaves the north woods and Amanda to return to her family in L.A. and, perhaps, to her former lover Pat. No sooner is she back home than she learns her estranged sister Sylvia is pregnant--and living in the duplex next door with her unemployed, drunken, wife-beating current husband. The also homophobic brute trashes Toni's widowed Mama's income property and bashes Pat's car before police arrest him. Sylvia's ex, a formerly hunky surfer now confined to a wheelchair and a lucrative psychotherapy practice, gives words of wisdom and temporary refuge to Sylvia's daughter Gabi, to Mama, and to the two sisters, who spit tacks at each other whenever possible. So why, Pat wonders, has she gotten re-embroiled with the Dorados? Some readers may wonder, too, especially if they are also thrown by the Spanish with which de la Pena liberally salts the basically English text. If they relish dysfunctional family fare, however, no problemo. Whitney Scott

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