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Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Short Stories
  • Language:English
  • Pages:170
  • eBook ISBN:9780934971980

Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist

by Kathleen Alcala

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These fourteen magical stories, set in the Southwest and Mexico, move vividly between realism and imagination. According to author Rudolfo Anaya, Ms. Alcalá “captures the essence of magical realism in her work.” Many of the stories concern the generation of women who lived through the Mexican revolution. Those who survived found themselves in a world dominated by North America but with a nineteenth-century Spanish social structure and a pre-Columbian landscape and sensibility. The stories deal with the inner lives of these women and men, the world of dream and imagination and shifting reality.
Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist is a collection of 14 stories set in Mexico and the Southwest. Written in the tradition of magic realism, each is a story of transformation from one reality to another. They are arranged roughly in chronological order from adolescence to old age (and beyond). Like the Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska, I have tried to tell the stories my characters would tell if they were writers. Most of the protagonists are women, some weak, some strong, but all driven by their connection to a power far more compelling than the restricted circumstances of their lives. Science fiction writer Joanna Russ told me my stories were important because I am writing about women whose stories would otherwise not be told. I write about a culture in which miracles continue to flower in neglected inner courtyards, and old women grapple with the devil or converse with angels. Because these stories are difficult to classify by genre, they have appeared in magazines ranging from Calyx, a Journal of Art and Literature by Women, to Isaac Asimov's Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Half of these stories were published separately, and two nominated for the General Electric Young Writers Award.
About the author
Kathleen Alcalá’s life is all about stories. She is the author of four works of fiction – Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist; Spirits of the Ordinary; The Flower in the Skull; and Treasures in Heaven – and a collection of essays, The Desert Remembers My Name – On Family and Writing. Her work is the recipient of a Governor’s Writers Award, the Washington State Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and a Western States Book Award, among others. Two of her stories are included in the Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Kathleen’s parents were born in Mexico. She is from Compton, California, and grew up in San Bernardino.