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KLIATTThe author, a novelist and lecturer, recounts family legends with which he grew from childhood to maturity within a Mexican immigrant family. Some of these stories are brief, based on his own memory of events, while others are longer and/or find their basis in stories handed down to him by one or the other of his parents. Topics addressed include how his dog foretold the death of his brother; his mother's childhood witnessing of a neighbor giving birth; his father meeting up with La Bruja (the iconographic witch of Latin American storytelling); and the family connection to Pancho Villa's revolutionary army. Villasenor's narrative style is colloquial and engaging, giving the reader the sense of hearing these tales firsthand. His characterizations of girls, indigenous peoples, and soldiers are remarkably even-handed and sensitive. In addition to offering insights on border life during the span of the 20th century, the tales offer models for young writers who want to shape family stories of their own into written prose. This book also serves as an introduction to a Chicano author whose body of work includes novels (Macho!) and nonfiction (Jury: The People vs. Juan Corona). KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1994, Arte Publico Press, Univ. of Houston, 202p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Francisca Goldsmith