In her compilation of essays, speeches, letters and notes, Sandra Cisneros takes readers behind the typewriters she has written upon over the decades, revealing the rooms in which her novels and poems were composed, the thoughts circling her mind as she created the characters so many have adored, and introducing the people she loved and lost along the way in “A House of My Own.”
In a written response to a mother’s request that schools ban from their libraries the author’s “The House on Mango Street,” Cisneros talks of words as medicine and libraries as medicine cabinets. Through her inclusion of book introductions she wrote for other authors, we get rich glimpses into her relationships with fellow writers, sitting with them at tables as they sip beers and share life. And when we read older articles that tell of thoughts the author no longer thinks, Cisneros grants new insights. In 1987 she couldn’t imagine being anything other than a writer; today, however, she provides an asterisk and divulges that she’d rather be a comedian, a shoe designer, a milliner, a henna hand painter.
Throughout each story, though written for a diverse smattering of purposes and people, is Cisneros’ constant molding of words like clay, plopping us on a treeless Geneva street “as bald as a knuckle” and allowing us to feel the oppressive heat of Spain while she searches for live flamenco. She leads us into her closet-sized childhood bedroom with a door that won’t close, describes her father’s expert creativity in upholstering the family furniture and ushers us into her heart as it breaks upon his death. Cisneros’ words will make existing fans love her more, and drive new readers to reach for her previous works after closing this one.
A House of My Own: Stories From My Life
Alfred A. Knopf, 400 pages