Friday, November 15, 2013

murder, drugs, and smuggling

THE BLACK WIDOW’S WARDROBE By: Lucha Copri • ISBN: 1558852883, Houston, Tex. : Arte Público Press, c1999. Have you ever started reading a book which has been classified as being in one genre, to discover that, while the classification may be correct, the real interest of the book has little to do with its specified intent? This is one of those books, and even though the mystery isn’t the most interesting element of the story, I found it worth reading for another, unexpected reason. The story is told by, and set in the environment and culture of, the Mexican-American (or Chicano) community. Even better, it is approached from that point of view. I know far more about other immigrant communities and cultures, and while it is always best to learn from personal interaction, this book gave me a glimpse into the culture, and one bit of insight that I find invaluable. The book is set in California and Mexico, and, even with the mildly supernatural elements, the story, including the mystery is believable. Along the way, we learn some probably less well known Mexican history, get to “visit” a beautiful and moving “Day of the Dead” celebration, and meet some delightful characters. The culture is described so naturally and unpretentiously that it is simply the background setting of the story: yet also because of this naturalness, it is more easy to see, and begin, at least, to try to understand, cultural expectations and assumptions different from those with which a reader deals on an everyday basis. All in all, I’m glad to have found this author, and I expect to find, and read, more of her work.

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