Noise of Infinite Longing

Noise of Infinite Longing

by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa

Writing with great honesty and lyrical prose, Luisita Lopez Torregrosa gives us an incandescent memoir exploring the meaning of family connections and what happens to them as we grow up. The Noise of Infinite Longing is about a Puerto Rican family, its origins, its place in society, its illusions, and, finally, what happened when the family dispersed, its members… See more details below


Writing with great honesty and lyrical prose, Luisita Lopez Torregrosa gives us an incandescent memoir exploring the meaning of family connections and what happens to them as we grow up. The Noise of Infinite Longing is about a Puerto Rican family, its origins, its place in society, its illusions, and, finally, what happened when the family dispersed, its members moving in different directions. It is a story unlike any others about the passage of Puerto Ricans and other Latin Americans to countries not their own. But it is, in every sense, a universal story -- of personal and cultural roots that are too strong to be completely severed, and of the passionate and anguished search for what we call home.

The book opens with the death of Luisita's mother, which brings together in one place, for the first time in almost ten years, all six of her children. Over four days of funeral arrangements, burial, and mourning, the family's and children's stories unfold, beginning with their parents' doomed romance set against the backdrop of upper-middle-class San Juan society and the traditions and class differences that ruled such a community. Out of a childhood of privilege and pain, one of Luisita's sisters joins the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; their brother hungers for the life of a rock-and-roll performer but ends up a teacher in the Bronx; Luisita becomes a writer and editor and travels the far regions of the world, always looking for a place to call her own. The siblings experience a journey of exile from the family's native land, and they must deal with the wrenching pull it has on them. With the perspective that the years afford us, the story draws an arc that begins with the conquest of Puerto Rico and fades into the present. The island itself is a character here, misunderstood and often neglected but intensely vivid, larger by far than its size and importance in the global arena. Characters in the family's past illuminate the island's history and shed light on its present. But, ultimately, this is a story of human struggle played out against the everyday joys and disappointments of life, and the myths and dreams that sustain us.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The Noise of Infinite Longing starts slowly, then picks up speed, the last third accelerating clear through the acknowledgments. Ms. Torregrosa pulls off an oxymoronic feat: she is ferocious yet lyrical. She makes you ache to see the other Puerto Rico, her Puerto Rico � its Fajardo, El Vedado and P�rez Gald�s, places of trammeled beauty. She makes you promise yourself to do what she cannot � be good to people who love you even if you don't love them. Most of all, she makes you long to see her sister Angeles dance. — Patricia Volk
Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Torregrosa's memoir, framed by and interspersed with events around her mother's funeral in 1994, opens as she and her five siblings gather for the first time in 15 years. Torregrosa, a New York Times editor, peels away the layered memories of siblings of different ages, revealing a complex portrait of the family and the island they grew up on in the 1950s. The life in Puerto Rico she describes is one of high status, privilege and isolation from those with neither. The family, assiduously rooted in Spain rather than Puerto Rico, was always comfortable, usually wealthy. Her grandmother was brought up by governesses and tutors; her mother, a lawyer, was formerly a cheerleader and sorority queen who rode horses and played the piano; and her father had the "ambition of the hard-born," but an acceptably Spanish genealogy. Reconstructing the pleasant picture, however, reveals an indulgent father with a violent temper and a mother "trapped by tradition and her own fantasies of romance." In this highly stratified world, where family members left Puerto Rico not to seek fortunes but to study abroad and obtain Ivy League degrees, a brother's marriage to a Nuyorican was a sort of disgrace. As Torregrosa's memoir reaches deeper than the beautiful island and her idyllic past, it becomes a coming-out story, as she leaves behind a repressive class structure, a racist orientation and a required heterosexuality. Torregrosa's deft, vivid characterizations capture a multigenerational cast, and her keen sense of sound and scene makes this a moving, believable and fresh story of growing up Puerto Rican and being American. Agent, Kathy Robbins. (Mar. 5) Forecast: Author appearances in New York and Puerto Rico should help Torregrosa's memoir reach Latinas, and HarperCollins will publish an accompanying reading group guide. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal - Library Journal
In this beautifully told memoir about the death and funeral of her mother in 1994, Torregrosa (assistant styles editor, the New York Times) relates her family's experience growing up in Puerto Rico during the 1950s. As she and her siblings gather in Texas for the first time in 15 years to mark the passing of their mother, they share their feelings toward one another and about their troubled father and native island. The narrative reveals a family unexposed to the hard life in Puerto Rico that we have come to expect; instead, Torregrosa writes of a society layered with status and privilege. She effectively leads readers back and forth between the present of a grieving family and the past, which included the divorce of their lawyer mother from their father, a philandering doctor. The images of growing up in Puerto Rico are fresh, yet her story is not without revelations of a family divided by ambitions and time. Ironically, her memoir closes with a second reunion in 2001 for her father's funeral. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., AL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
New York Times editor Torregrosa's debut recalls with rueful affection an unsettled childhood in a tropical paradise. In graceful prose, the author movingly relates how her love for a place, Puerto Rico, and a parent, her mother, was affected when her family fell apart and she fled the island to avoid witnessing the consequences. The prologue describes a family reunion after her mother's sudden death in 1994; gathered for Mar'a Luisa's funeral in Texas, where she lived for more than 30 years with her second husband, her children talk about their past, their family, and their relations with one another. Mar'a Luisa had seven children, six by her Puerto Rican first husband and a seventh with her American spouse. Torregrosa, the oldest, was closest to sister Angeles, later a high-level Sandinista, and brother Amaury. The three bore the brunt of their father's abusive behavior before their mother finally divorced him. Torregrosa vividly evokes the pace and texture of Puerto Rican life, "furious winds and hot rains, a place of trammeled beauty." She describes the places where the family lived, San Juan as well as small country towns, as her father developed his medical practice. Beautiful and clever Mar'a Luisa belonged to a distinguished family and had been a lawyer before she fell passionately in love and married a man with whom she had little in common. Amaury, from a lower social class, expected his wife to be a dutiful homebody while he stayed out at night drinking and womanizing. Torrregrosa watched angrily as her mother waited up for him and endured his abuse of her and the children. By the time the author was 16, she had decided she wanted to write and live in the US, where she hadgone to school, to get as far away from the family as possible. Yet she encounters prejudice as a Puerto Rican and a lesbian while she struggles to make a life of her own in America. Bittersweet and beautifully written.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.99(d)

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