Title: Places Left Unfinished at the Time of ...
Publisher: Viking, New York
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Near Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine
Signed: Signed by Author
Edition: First Edition
First printing, full number line. Dated, inscribed, and signed by the author on the title page: "9/12/99 / Para R-- W-- / Fellow lover of the posticants [?] / John Phillip Santos." Book is square and unmarked; corners sharp, spine ends bumped. The dust jacket is not price-clipped (original price $24.95). Brodart protected. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 005162
Synopsis: A beautifully wrought memoir of family and heritage crosses Richard Rodriguez's Conversations with My Father with Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street.
Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation tells of growing up in San Antonio, Texas, in an in-between place and time--shifting back and forth across the Mexican border, between present realities and ancient cultures. Interweaving family remembrance, pre-Columbian mythology, and the histories of Texas and Mexico, it blends the story of one Mexican family with the soul of an entire people. Part treasury of the elders, part elegy, part personal odyssey, part Book of the Dead, its tales are of a fragile family lineage that spans borders and rivers and decades.
John Phillip Santos discovers his Mexican past in places close to home and farflung landscapes. The story unfolds through a pageant of unforgettable family figures: from Madrina--touched with epilepsy and prophecy ever since, as a girl, she saw a dying soul leave its body--to Teofilo, who was kidnapped as an infant and raised by the Kikapu Indians of northern Mexico. At the heart of his book is Santos's search for the meaning of his grandfather Juan Jose's mysterious suicide, which becomes a haunting symbol of the Chicano search for identity--Mayan, Aztecan, Spanish, and American. Lyrical prose, magic realism, and memory converge to make a Mexican American opus.
Review: Mexican American journalist John Phillip Santos's lyrical and loving memoir explores his family's history in magnificent prose touched with the singing cadences of his Spanish-language heritage yet vibrant with the energy of American English. It's a combination utterly suited to his native San Antonio, where las viejitas--the little old ladies of the Garcia and Santos families--ruled over their children and grandchildren with the toughness and grandeur of the Mexico they left during the revolution of 1914. "Poised between those ancient Indio origins from the south ... and our Mestizo future in the north," these new Texans made Mexico live for their descendants in the magical stories and folkloric practices of an older culture. Yet there was also a sense of secrets kept and cherished possessions left behind, of people who had traveled far and traveled light. The "wind of story" was also "a wind of forgetting," and as Santos probes his heritage, he comes to understand that "it is okay to move on and forget." Nonetheless, this is a book that restores to memory the drama not just of a single family but of an entire people whose past is more closely entwined with that of the United States than some Americans care to remember. Santos depicts them with care and dignity. --Wendy Smith
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