Throughout this charmingly strange collection, Fragoza shows the reader that death is not as Wittgenstein describes it — here, death is both lived through and experienced, and Fragoza uses the unreal in fiction to report from the other side. In these 10 fabulist tales, the body and the inevitability of loss shimmer, and each story moves effortlessly between horror and the real. In the tradition of Surrealists like Leonora Carrington, who once wrote, 'Houses are really bodies,' Fragoza has plunged into the depths of her characters’ psyches and the unruly abodes in which they now find themselves ... In a way, all story collections function as a type of body, each tale an individual organ or limb that contributes to the whole. This is particularly true of Fragoza’s intensely corporeal book ... The story asks enormous questions about the basis of faith and violence, especially violence enacted upon women and girls at the hands of men ... an accomplished debut with language that has the potential to affect the reader on a visceral level, a rare and significant achievement from a forceful new voice in American literature.
The stories in Chicanx writer and critic Carribean Fragoza’s debut collection oscillate somewhere between Laila Lalami’s depiction of multigenerational immigrant communities in the United States today, and María Fernanda Ampuero’s sharp, fable-like eye for horror when telling of violence against and by women. Entire lives unfold in just a few lines ... The female body becomes the shield and scythe that challenges patriarchal threat; sometimes it bleeds and sometimes it resuscitates from male brutality. But almost always female characters in Fragoza’s universe flex, chop, and levitate their way past men they no longer need. In ten tightly crafted stories, Fragoza presents a series of near-oral tradition narratives that lace vulnerability with strength and wounds with survival ... The mother-daughter connection swells across Fragoza’s collection and takes center stage in the titular story ... Time, place, and body coalesce into a collective memory that reaches beyond this mother and daughter and into their ancestral past, readying the new generation for the present, the daughter carrying generations’ worth of traditions forward ... Fragoza imagines a world where patriarchy can be eradicated and finds beauty in how Chicanx women come together. In the end, her narrators, and the matriarchs they observe, choose who belongs in their circles, whether by blunt force or love.
Yes, very nasty. Very delicious ... there is more feminist subtext here than there is displacement angst, a fitting language and tone for the current state of women’s issues, all the black humor, the irony, and stranger-than-fiction scenarios right at home here among the fairy tales gone wrong and the fables exposed for the patriarchal propaganda they always were. Oh, and a bit of blood, gore, guts, and death thrown in, you know, for balance ... genius ... angry tales, and the birds in them are astonishingly pissed off. Sure, they are superbly written, lyrical, imbued with interesting layers—historical, humorous, satirical, social. Sure. All of that. But what they are most is fun. Just fun. Interesting. Like reading some great movies. They do not preach. They don’t care if you learn something or not. No social problem will be solved because we read these stories, and maybe that, that right there, is exactly why we should.