Copyright © Françoise Herrmann
The StoryTeller with Nike Airs and other Barrio stories by Kleya Forté-Escamilla is one of my favorite short story books! This was a book on my daughter’s high school reading list, which I also devoured..... silently… since we had both conspired to agree that we could only mangle the beauty and joy of these books if we sat picking at them like vultures.
Maxine Hong Kingston was also on the list, but I had something in common with Forté-Escamilla’s StoryTeller… I too wore Nike Airs! Plus I could hear her, and I was accustomed to Latino stories, part fiction part reality, or was it part reality, part another reality. I had read Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Isabelle Allende, but Forté-Escamilla was different. She was from the border. She hummed, suggesting and opening up worlds. She spun stories in a single sentence; and novels in a single paragraph. And I loved her English, and Spanish, and Spanglish, all in one breath. With her stories, she tricked poverty, oppression and the Barrio. I loved the magic of her prose to change everything even though nothing ever changed.
Here is the opening paragraph for the story about Lucia, the Storyteller with Nike airs… and then … if you are curious about this curandera, and her airs, you can order the book from Amazon.