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WOMEN WITH BIG EYES by Ángeles Mastretta Kirkus Star


by Ángeles Mastretta & translated by Amy Schildhouse Greenberg

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 2003
ISBN: 1-57322-346-8
Publisher: Riverhead

Mexican women, brought to vivid life in masterful vignettes.

With soulful warmth and sly humor—and a deep respect for the earthy details of lives that center on husbands (and lovers), fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, grandparents, cousins, and children both pure and perfidious—Mastretta (Lovesick, 1997, etc.) gets an entire world into very few pages. Taking as title and subject “women with big eyes,” she describes those blessed with the ability to see truly, responding to joys and troubles with open hearts and a quirky individuality that enchants and appeals. Yet there is nothing sentimental about these women, and the boundaries of their somewhat circumscribed lives are quite clear, set by society, the Catholic church, and macho men who brook no disobedience. But they talk back and they do as they please, whether in the wilder reaches of their imaginations or the everyday clatter of Pueblo kitchens. Aunt Fernanda, a devoted mother and wife with an unseen lover, can hear—clandestine sex helps—the delirious rhythm that also controls the equilibrium of a constantly shifting universe. If that is sacrilege, then the Holy Trinity owes her an explanation. Aunt Cristina Martinez, unmarried by the tragically old age of 20, has a dazzling engagement ring delivered and marries an imaginary fiancé in secret—then a year later, singing sad and wild songs and wearing black high heels and sheer black stockings, mourns his unfortunate death. There’s no end of aunts, fortunately, or of stories, and each is the unique creation of a greatly gifted author.

A remarkable collection. First published in 1990 in Mexico, now deftly translated, though the text includes the complete Spanish as well.