I want to be
like the waves on the sea,
like the clouds in the wind,
but I’m me.
One day I’ll jump
out of my skin.
I’ll shake the sky
like a hundred violins.
The House on Mango Street
A couple of years ago, my mother gave me an anniversary edition of The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. This was one of those books I thought I should read but somehow never got around to reading until this week. I’m glad that I finally read this wonderful gem.
The House on Mango Street was written over 25 years ago in a Chicago that is both very different and similar to the Chicago of today. Reading this book, I felt myself transported back to the 70’s and early 80’s when she wrote it, and also to the Chicago of the 90’s and 2000’s when the city was such a big part of my life. I was also reminded of the stories my mother used to tell me about growing up in Chicago in the 30’s and 40’s.
My mother’s grandparents were immigrants from Germany and as I read The House on Mango Street, I could see and feel the core of the immigrant experience in coming to the intense melting pot that is Chicago.
Being a witness is important for any writer of any time, but I continue to believe that it’s even more critical that we have writers who chronicle this time in which we are living. We live in a time when the world is changing so dramatically from what it was like for thousands of years of human and earth history. Cisneros provides a profound witness to our chaotic and ever-changing time with beauty, brevity and nuance.
Her honest and open introduction in the anniversary edition, is almost even more moving than the original story. Cisneros combines poetry and prose in a highly readable and accessible book. There’s much to learn from her about the craft of writing just in the House on Mango Street. I intend to read more of her work soon.
Have any of you read other books by Cisneros that you could recommend?
- Book Review: The House on Mango Street (artsandyouthlove.wordpress.com)
- Your Most Important Resource as a Writer (writingyourdestiny.com)
- Books Geeks Should Read to Their Kids: Your Additions to Our List (wired.com)