Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation

Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation

John Phillip Santos

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 0140292020

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Finalist for the National Book Award!In this beautifully wrought memoir, award-winning writer John Philip Santos weaves together dream fragments, family remembrances, and Chicano mythology, reaching back into time and place to blend the story of one Mexican family with the soul of an entire people. The story unfolds through a pageant of unforgettable family figures: from Madrina--touched with epilepsy and prophecy ever since, as a girl, she saw a dying soul leave its body--to Teofilo, who was kidnapped as an infant and raised by the Kikapu Indians of Northern Mexico. At the heart of the book is Santos' search for the meaning of his grandfather's suicide in San Antonio, Texas, in 1939. Part treasury of the elders, part elegy, part personal odyssey, this is an immigration tale and a haunting family story that offers a rich, magical view of Mexican-American culture.

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Canary Islands. There had also been a wave of settlers from Cáceres, in the high plains of Spain. Also, many of the Indian tribes who had allied themselves with Cortés against the Aztecas, like the Totonacas and the Tlaxcaltecas, had long ago been given land in the northern reaches of Nueva España, in places like Monterrey, San Diego, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, and San Antonio. On those early visits, Uncle Frank and Abuelo Jacobo stayed with my great-grandfather’s boyhood friend Tacho

of esoteric metal alloys by their timbre and weight. Of the smell of wild dove soup, con limón. Of freshly cooked menudo in the winter. Of all the properly starched collars and serious brown faces, dressed like Europeans for a wedding. Of the society of pecans and cabrito. Of river-cooled watermelon, eaten in a large circle of relations. Of the last of Mexico left inside of Texas. We were born to begin the last chapter of a very old story. It seemed conceivable when I was a kid that the whole

image, exalting in their fleeting intimacy with her until a security guard arrived to dislodge the wedge from the works and the sidewalk resumed its inexorable circuit. In a sooty, candlelit subterranean chapel further beneath the basilica, I kneeled before a simple statue of the Virgen. I watched an old Indian woman finish her devout prayers and then reach around her back to grab her long, rope-thick gray braid. In one swift stroke, her lips moving again in prayer, she cut it off with a large

crashed the fiesta and began menacing some of the guests. Alejo and others ejected them with little resistance, but an hour later they returned, with machetes. In the argument and altercation that followed, Alejo shot three of them, all brothers, killing one, and then went into hiding. After turning himself in several days later, it would take more than a year before Alejo was released on a local judge’s finding of self-defense, but he and his family had to leave Coahuila for fear of a vendetta

sidearm once, when some bandidos tried to rob their modest house and steal a week’s payroll. Hearing them outside, Pepa yelled a warning to them, then fired one shot through the front door, and the hombres malos fled. Years later, when she and Anacleto came to the United States, the pistol was confiscated in its metal Gamesa cookie box by the American customs agents at the border town of Eagle Pass, and it took my mother a year of legal wrangles to help Tía Pepa to get it back. Along with Uela,

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