I am so proud of my friend Desiree Zamorano, whose book The Amado Women was published this month by Cinco Puntos Press. The story of Desiree's publishing success is a tribute to talent, hard work, and perseverance. So I asked her to tell us a little about it. Go, Des:
As I puzzled over The Amado Women I knew I wanted to write about wildly divergent women committed to staying with each other, providing a vivid, conflict-driven story. Where could I find this? The answer is probably obvious to you, thoughtful reader, but it took me some time to arrive at. I was thinking too hard. I was immersed in it, and like the air we breathe it was invisible to me. Where could I find it? In a family, of course.
Years ago when I began working on my writing all the short stories I read, by very prominent names, had narrators whose parents in particular were absent, invisible, or irrelevant. I found that puzzling, and did not, at that time, have the skill to label my misgivings about that. The fact for me was that as an adult I had equal amounts of catering to and reacting against the people who loved me most in the world. My family, perhaps like yours, specializes in over-identifying with each other, with an expectation of taking on a family member’s issue as if it were our own. This can be gratifying or embarrassing, but a response to this enmeshment is also to hide parts of ourselves from each other, in a simple way to avoid further complications or conflicts or drama. Sometimes simply asking for the truth, or telling the truth can be as challenging as flinging downa gauntlet. Fun, right? But in any case, the rich and wonderful stuff for a great story.
All of us have multiple, conflicting identities, as Elizabeth Strout displays so beautifully in Olive Kitteridge with Olive’s complexity, longing and incompetence. Not all of these identities are family-friendly, and some of us are convinced we are in the wrong family. In one of her essays, Ann Patchett mentions Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard out of Carolina, (now there’s a sundering family drama for you) as being worried about having only one novel in her. From this Patchett realizes that it's really one story, and that Patchett's story for all of her novels is: a group of strangers meet and become a community. I thought about that, then looked into my own writing. What story do I tell, again and again?
My stories are all about displacement: how we long to belong.
In our lives we may wonder are we in the right family? Will they accept the shameful parts of us? Can we survive with or without each other?
I hope, gentle reader, you will recognize yourself, your struggles, your successes, in at least one of these Amado Women.
Find out more about Désirée’s novel and her events here.