cover image Imaginary Parents

Imaginary Parents

Sheila Ortiz Taylor, Helen Gee. University of New Mexico Press, $9.95 (280pp) ISBN 978-0-8263-1763-6

In this literary and artistic collage of childhood, Sheila (Faultline) provides text, and her sister, Sandra, supplies pictures of her assemblage boxes. Together they manage to re-create-and perhaps restructure-memories of their Hollywood-style parents. In an opening story, a young girl displays her fascination with her father by searching his closet, examining his socks, his ties and, finally, putting on a pair of his shoes. ""My own feet float now in magic shoes laced tight. I clunk forth toward my mother's mirror."" There is something childlike about the art in that it transforms cutouts into magical, miniature worlds contained within little boxes (cajitas). The stories, too, reflect on childhood without the excessive analysis that often clots the writing of adults thinking about their own past. Each piece resembles a film clip, with the reader/viewer left to interpret its meaning, as in the story titled ""Street Map."" In this dislocated, unsentimental tale, the author describes events as they take place at various locations and the eventual suicide of one of the characters. The art which accompanies this particular story continues this underlying simplicity by displaying a locked box with an attached closed notebook. As Sheila Ortiz Taylor aptly states in her foreword, this collection can be described as ""an altar... [s]mall objects with big meaning set out in order."" Photos. (Jan.)