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A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by…
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A House of My Own: Stories from My Life

by Sandra Cisneros

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Beautiful, revealing essays that Cisneros published over the course of 30 years in different venues and has now collected in one volume. She helpfully prefaces each essay with a brief narrative about what was going on in her life at the time, what motivated her to write on that topic, and how the essay strikes her now. The book includes really rich biographical material about the writing of The House on Mango Street, and beautiful, endearing photographs of Cisneros's family and various homes she's lived in over the years. For that alone, it would be a worthwhile read. But beyond that, the essays are replete with poignant insights about poverty, writing, death, and aging, all in Cisneros's inimitable lyric voice. It's a really wonderful book for anyone acquainted with Cisneros's work. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
I hoped for a bio but I got a collection of previously published short pieces, all with autobiographical elements. Not much about houses here. I’m a Cisneros fan and I must admit I was a little underwhelmed. ( )
  debnance | Dec 21, 2015 |
I enjoyed most of the selections in this collection of miscellaneous writings by the author of The House on Mango Street. Lots of reflections on writers and the writing process, growing up as an American of Mexican descent, living in various places, and living alone (and liking it). Library book. ( )
  seeword | Dec 19, 2015 |
A House of My Own: Stories From My Life by Sandra Cisneros is a collection of previously written works pulled together to create a "jigsaw autobiography." The topics range from personal stories to tributes to responses to criticism to social commentary. I read the book as individual, stand alone pieces without an expectation of cohesion or chronology. As is true of any collection, some pieces speak more to me than others.

Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/11/a-house-of-my-own-stories-from-my-life.... ( )
  njmom3 | Nov 14, 2015 |
Biography
Sandra Cisneros
A House of My Own: Stories from My Life
Alfred A. Knopf
Hardcover, 978-0-385-35133-1 (also available as ebook and audiobook), 400 pgs., $28.95
October 6, 2015

"As I write this, I’m ending my sixth decade. A new cycle in my life is opening and old one is closing. I wish to look backward and forward all at once."

A House of My Own: Stories from My Life by Sandra Cisneros is an autobiography of sorts, an assemblage of nonfiction pieces spanning the years 1984 through 2014. Cisneros has always written about borders: personal, political, cultural, sexual, spiritual, geographical; she has always written about identity; and she’s always been searching for her true home. “I’m gathering up my stray lambs…and herding them under one roof, not so much for the reader’s sake, but my own. Where are you, my little loves, and where have you gone? Who wrote these and why? I have a need to know, so that I can understand my life.”

Born in Chicago to a working-class Mexican American family, the lone girl among six sons, Cisneros attended graduate school at the Iowa Writers Workshop. She had to create her own path, not blazing but creeping, hacking through the undergrowth. She had not yet discovered a template for what she needed to be and how she wanted to live. “Then it occurred to me that none of the books in this class [grad school], in any of my classes, in all the years of my education had ever discussed a house like mine. I went home that night and realized my education had been a lie — had made presumptions about what was “normal,” what was American, what was of value. I got mad [and] asked myself what I could write about that my classmates couldn’t. I was trying as best I could to write the kind of book I’d never seen in a library or in a school…it was out of this negative experience that I found something positive: my own voice.”

Constructed in much the same manner as The House on Mango Street — vignettes that, taken together, describe a whole — the work in A House of My Own is taken from essays, lectures, feature articles, travel pieces, introductions written for art books, museum catalogs, letters. I did wish for a different arrangement, more flow or thematic cohesion, because this chronological order jumps from subject to subject with no transitions. The effect is sometimes discordant. The photographs Cisneros has chosen are a joy, many candid and family shots, and she provides us with a stellar to-be-read list as she reflects on authors who inspired her.

We get the privileges of watching Cisneros evolve her particular consciousness. Paradoxically (or logically), the most affecting pieces involve feminist fire or Cisneros family dynamics: growing up the only girl who, no matter how old she gets, wants her father to be proud. There is no self-indulgent navel-gazing in A House of My Own, but genuine examination. Cisneros has provided a template for those of us who follow.

"Is home something you move toward instead of going back? Homesickness, then, would be a malaise not for a place left behind in memory, but one remembered in the future."

Originally published in Lone Star Literary Life. ( )
  TexasBookLover | Oct 11, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038535133X, Hardcover)

From the beloved author of The House on Mango Street: a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that, taken together, form a jigsaw autobiography: an intimate album of a literary legend's life and career.

From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico, in a region where "my ancestors lived for centuries," the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection--spanning nearly three decades, and including never-before-published work--Cisneros has come home at last. Ranging from the private (her parents' loving and tempestuous marriage) to the political (a rallying cry for one woman's liberty in Sarajevo) to the literary (a tribute to Marguerite Duras), and written with her trademark sensitivity and honesty, these poignant, unforgettable pieces give us not only her most transformative memories but also a revelation of her artistic and intellectual influences. Here is an exuberant, deeply moving celebration of a life in writing lived to the fullest--an important milestone in a storied career.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 08 Jul 2015 13:15:59 -0400)

"From the beloved author of The House on Mango Street: a richly illustrated compilation of true stories and nonfiction pieces that, taken together, form a jigsaw autobiography: an intimate album of a literary legend's life and career. From the Chicago neighborhoods where she grew up and set her groundbreaking The House on Mango Street to her abode in Mexico, in a region where "my ancestors lived for centuries," the places Sandra Cisneros has lived have provided inspiration for her now-classic works of fiction and poetry. But a house of her own, where she could truly take root, has eluded her. With this collection--spanning nearly three decades, and including never-before-published work--Cisneros has come home at last. Ranging from the private (her parents' loving and tempestuous marriage) to the political (a rallying cry for one woman's liberty in Sarajevo) to the literary (a tribute to Marguerite Duras), and written with her trademark sensitivity and honesty, these poignant, unforgettable pieces give us not only her most transformative memories but also a revelation of her artistic and intellectual influences. Here is an exuberant, deeply moving celebration of a life in writing lived to the fullest--an important milestone in a storied career"-- "A book of essays spanning the author's career a[nd] reflecting upon the various homes she's lived in around the world"--… (more)

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