A coming-of-ager set in a small Mexican town, from the author of They're Cows, We're Pigs (1997).
Delmira Ulloa is eight, raised in a house "where only women live," and she's intensely curious about her unknown father. Her grandmother and mother see no reason to satisfy her curiosity and endeavor to distract her with stories, some magical, some more prosaic. This strategy temporarily appeases the strong-willed girl and helps nurture her vivid imagination as well as her love of reading. What the classics don't provide in the way of entertainment, Grandma does. The old lady regales Delmira with tales of the awful day the sea turned to stone and the stones to sea, the albino crocodile that once stalked frightened villagers, the glorious birds who fled the forest and then refused to fly; she instructs the girl as well in family history and heroics. Delmira scarcely knows what to believe, and her mind begins to play tricks on her: her grandmother turns halfway into a hen, an elderly servant dissolves into a puddle of urine, and so forth. Meanwhile, she takes a fiendish glee in spying on adults (especially when her indifferent mother commences a blatant affair with a lascivious priest) and finally tracks down her missing father, who sells shawls in the open-air market. Most of this tumultuous narrative seems to take place in the late 1960s, and it ends with a few predictable scenes of political and cultural unrest witnessed by Delmira as a teenager. Her subsequent sojourn in Germany, where she remains, amounts to little more than a bleak, self-imposed exile from the colorful world of her childhood.
Vivid but incoherent.