Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vida, true to its name, is full of life

Patricia Engel's debut Vida is a collection of short stories that all center around one character named Sabina.  These straight shooting stories tell it like it is about love, lust, friendship, and family.  In each of her stories, there are descriptions and interactions between the characters that are pitch-perfect, fresh, and blunt.  Engel writes, "The boyfriend grew up on a dusty patch of land where chickens became dinner," and, in a different story, "We tuck into each other like origami, fall asleep like captive hamsters, our lips touching, pretending we're each other's reason for surviving the cataclysm."  Engel also writes about Sabina's experience as a daughter of Colombian immigrants, writing, for example, that while "gringas" don't know of their heritage, " parents know our family lines five generations wide and ten generations back, down to the last conquistador."  Engel brings a distinctive, edgy new voice to fiction.  While these stories may not make you look at the world in a totally new light, they'll entertain you with their sharpness and impress you with their intelligence.

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