Sunday, July 20, 2014

Intermission... with more Nike Air

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.

“By the time Lucia walked out of the Barrio, took the Greyhound bus to Tuscon, changed buses in San Diego, changed again to the junky #10 bus to Santa Cruz, hung loose at the Metro with all the punks wearing purple and green hair, who looked more like los juveniles de sombra –the shadow kids – than they looked like themselves, took the Express to Watsonville, got off at the exit to highway 152, trudged through the dunes and arrived at a little wooden house sitting in the middle of a stinking brussels sprout field, the women were already crying.” (Forte-Escamilla, p. 53).



Forté-Escamilla, K. (1994). The Storyteller with Nike Airs and other Barrio stories. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Press

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