Scattering the Ashes

Maria Del Carmen Boza, Author, Maria Del Carmen Boza, Author Bilingual Press/Editorial Biling-Ue $16 (387p) ISBN 978-0-927534-75-8
This fictionalized life story of Teresa Urrea, a real woman who came to prominence in the late 1800s as the unofficial saint of the Mexican Revolution, has many of the earmarks of effective fiction: revolution, mysticism, romance, the singular individual life played out against a background of deep social injustice. Sad to say, Domecq's stiff (or stiffly translated) prose undermines her tale, and a framing device in which a present-day scholar obsessed with Teresa makes a pilgrimage to Cabora further robs the narrative of immediacy. The daughter of a servant and a lecherous ranch boss, Teresa exhibits unusual powers and eventually falls into a three-month trance during which she acquires the ability to perform miraculous cures. She gains a following among the poor, and they invoke her name in a revolt against Mexico's oppressive dictator, Porfirio D az. False rumors of Teresa's involvement in the uprisings spread, and she and her father are imprisoned, then exiled to the U.S. As drawn by Domecq, Teresa's is a life full of paradox and conflict. She is a famed healer powerless to mend the rifts in her own family; a pacifist in whose name blood is shed; a visionary who can't see her way to personal happiness. The problem is that Domecq describes Teresa's inner struggles in dull, uninflected passages that keep her at a distance. This lack of subtlety at critical moments flattens the impact of what could have been a compelling story. (May)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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