In Viola Canales' first collection of short stories, magic suffuses the everyday lives of characters that yearn to be recognized by the world around them or to change the circumstances that are beyond their control. In the title story, "Orange Candy Slices," a young girl cuts flowers with the precision of a surgeon to win a special favor from the Virgin of Guadalupe. The coffee grounds at the bottom of a cup foretell the future of customers in the enchanting story, "The Cafe." And in "The Wooden Chair," a mysterious rattling chair turns a festive meal into a truth-telling cabal.
In these stories of coming of age, Canales introduces the reader to cultural traditions and artifacts of a very special community: homage to the Virgin of Guadalupe, the celebration of the day of the Three Magi, a carousel of unique saints, and a flock of very special pink plastic flamingos. With the passage of time, the narrator discovers changes within herself and the community around her.
Canales' tales inhabit the mysterious and secret land that lies between the United States and Mexico, between childhood and adulthood, reality and imagination, life and death. These haunting stories not only reveal, layer by layer, the fantastic in the ordinary, but, most importantly, the powerful and healing magic inside all of us.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wow! I was totally immersed in these stories! The author accurately depicts life in a 20th Century Hispanic community. As a Mexican-American myself, I appreciate the vivid and colorful characters reminiscent of my childhood. I highly recommend this book!
This collection of short stories is just terrific. On the one hand, the stories give a vivid, all-five-senses picture of growing up in the Rio Grande Valley, with its hopes and dreams, its poverty, its religion, and its mysticism. On the other hand, the themes and experiences are universal. The author does an especially good job of showing how grandparents and grandchildren live together, sharing dreams and strategies. My favorite stories were The Tiny Bubble, with its combination of myth and the all-too-real details of learning about puberty, The Flamingoes, and The Cafe, but I enjoyed every one of them.