cover image A House of My Own: Stories from My Life

A House of My Own: Stories from My Life

Sandra Cisneros. Knopf, $28.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-385-35133-1

Cisneros, a MacArthur Fellow and two-time NEA grant recipient, has felt one constant emotion throughout her life: a hunger for a place that belongs to her, a place where she is free. In her lyrical, warm, and richly detailed account, Cisneros writes of her nomadic family. She, her parents, and her six brothers only find some sense of permanence during regular visits to her paternal grandparents in Mexico City. It isn’t until she’s an adolescent that they get their first real home in Chicago, which inspires her most famous novel, The House on Mango Street. But when given the chance, she flees in the early 1970s from the old-world, marriage-minded patriarchy of her father’s home for university and an M.F.A. Then, with the half-finished Mango manuscript in tow, she leaves the country for the first time, at 28. She lands in Greece and finds her first home of her own, a house where she writes in the garden looking out over the mountains. Many years on, it “holds a dazzling place in my memory.” Like many artists, Cisneros often lives as an itinerant; as a Mexican-American from “Chicano, Illinois,” she toggles between two metaphorical worlds. Settling in San Antonio, she wears tunics, the same style worn by the servants her Mexican relatives employ, and declares, “This cloth is the flag of who I am.” Now in her 60s, Cisneros vividly evokes the many stages of her life and the places she’s been.[em] (Oct.) [/em]