a Multitude of Stories

Lately, I’ve had only two books on my coffee table around me while I write: Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros and the Collected Stories of Wallace Stegner. I’ve also been listening to Los Lobos and Bob Dylan today as I think of the world of the Little Lolo Stories. And I can say these texts have sponsored and infected my writing.

Here’s a line from Caramelo that really got into my head when I first read it on a train with D. I immediately marked the page and go back to it quite often. Cisneros writes:

Because a life contains a multitude of stories and not a single strand explains precisely the who of who one is, we have to examine the complicated loops that allowed Regina to become la Senora Reyes.

No other line I have read in fiction has influenced more than that line. I think because I am trying to do exactly that with Lolo–trying to understand ‘the complicated loops that allowed’ little Lolo from those old home movies and photos to become Lolo from family stories and arguments. Also I think because all these voices from the past and the present–from my reality and the fictive reality–all converge in fiction and the ‘multitude of stories’ and ‘complicated loops’ remind me so much of the complexity of the narrative in Little Lolo Stories. How complicated it is for me to get my head around all of these stories to get them down.

Now, Wallace Stegner gives me the form to ‘borrow’–the scenes and the mix of narration and action. I love the rugged stories and the sensibility the prose from Stegner gives. The sense of journey. I feel Stegner gives me the push to focus on the ‘single strand’.

And Los Lobos gives me the music and the sound of the old neighborhood and maybe even the old folks house on Spruce Street–the Abuelita’s old radio and records.

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john paul jaramillo

John Paul Jaramillo’s debut story collection The House of Order was named a 2013 Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist, and his most recent work Little Mocos is now available from Twelve Winters Press. In 2013 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature listed Jaramillo as one of its Top 10 New Latino Authors to Watch and Read. He is currently a professor of composition and literature at Lincoln Land College-Springfield, Illinois.

3 thoughts on “a Multitude of Stories”

  1. And you must give yourself the permission and space to keep creating it all through those loops but in the neighborhood, ultimately, behind your eyes.

  2. I’m going to see Sandra Cisneros read next week. (It’s a celebration of the 25th anniversary of House on Mango Street.) Thank you for giving me another thing to think about as I listen to her read her work.

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