cover image Watercolor Women Opaque Men

Watercolor Women Opaque Men

Ana Castillo, . . Curbstone, $15 (269pp) ISBN 978-1-931896-20-7

An epic in verse, the story of Castillo's chicana Everywoman—referred to alternately as "She" and "Ella"—begins life in the rough-and-tumble world of California's migrant farm community. Ella's childhood is spent in los files , or the fields, and she is told early on by Mama Grande that "all men are the same." Rebellious aunt Renata brings her niece to Chicago, where she works a string of blue-collar jobs and attempts to better herself through college classes. After an attempted rape by a biology teacher and harsh words from an art history professor, she trades in college for marriage and baby, but eventually loses interest in her "dutiful husband" and turns to a female cop she meets in a bar. Things sour quickly, but involvement with the "Water Goddess/ Patroness of the Sea/ Governess of the Subconscious" empowers Ella. As the perspective shifts to the first person, Ella, describing herself as "Part Medusa/ Part Mother Goose/ and part Xochiquetzal," draws on all of her personal and cultural resources to raise her son to be different from all the "opaque" men she sees around them. The story and the verse itself offer few surprises, but Castillo (So Far from God ) delivers a solid narrative of personal development. (Sept.)