sábado, marzo 11, 2006

Free Enterprise

I read Michelle Cliff’s Free Enterprise yesterday. The whole book. I’ve had it for prob’ly a year, and I know I’ve read the first chapter before this but for some reason stopped there. As I was reading it yesterday, I realized that a dream I wrote about last July,--the Black Bonnet Dream, the House scene, anyway--is totally from this book. La Vieja Ines in the coal scuttle bonnet is prob’ly MEP in the attic where Annie lay upon the slave-pieced coverlet.

Yesterday I picked it up to read on the commute home, and I was just delighted at how smart--brilliant--and welcoming this book is to me. The funny thing is I’m feeling now that Aurora Levins Morales must have read this book as she was writing Remedios. (Free Enterprise was first published in 1993, Remedios was published in 1999, though I remember Levins Morales doing a reading from the manuscript [dissertation] in Santa Cruz in 1997.) They’re doing a lot of the same things--weaving together stories of different women of color, or rather showing how they’re already interwoven.

There’s real rich history texturing this novel. You can see the tremendous poet that Cliff is, but it doesn’t take away from the brilliant crafting of this novel.

Why am I sometimes afraid of reading books? I could have been enriched by this book for 13 years (if I’d known about it), or at least six, since the first time I heard about it was when the author of Granny Midwives was telling me about her next project.

The first book I admitted to being afraid of reading was Felicia Luna Lemus’ Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties. I was just finishing my book at the time, and L* suggested that I should read Lemus because, she said, “I think this is the next thing.” (i.e. what comes after the late 20th-century construction of Chicana lesbian that I look at in my book). And that was just too intimidating for me, like the novel would potentially make everything I said in my book already-obsolete.

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