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The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel by Brando…

The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel (2010)

by Brando Skyhorse

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2081356,261 (3.61)2
  1. 00
    Drown by Junot Díaz (ShortStoryLover)
    ShortStoryLover: Both books feature Latin American cultures (albeit different ones) and are collections of short stories.

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California has temporarily displaced Alabama in my themed ranking of American states I like to read about but haven't actually visited. Brando Skyhorse's novel, or collection of vignettes, about the Mexican community of Echo Park was recommended on various helpful reading lists, and gives a flavour of the area.

All of the characters - from Aurora, who supposedly inspired the author in his clever introductory chapter, to her mother Felicia, a cleaning lady, plus Hector, Cristina, Angie, Efren, Freddy - are distinct in their voices, yet drawn to the other characters by family ties and chance meetings. The random acts of violence are shocking - Hector witnesses a murder, Efren hits a young boy with his bus - in the midst of such lyrical storytelling, but the bad decisions and flawed relationships of the characters make them all the more real. Personally, I just enjoyed reading about a small part of California, the good with the bad, through the memories of the author and the eyes of the fictional people who live there in his story.

I had trouble translating the Spanish dialogue (perhaps that was the point) and the last chapter was too heavy-handed for me, but otherwise this is a beautiful book which gave me an insight into the immigrant culture of Los Angeles. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | May 30, 2014 |
4 and a half stars ( )
  bookmagic | Jan 25, 2014 |
There were the poetic aspects of this book that simply took my breath away, it's imagery and confluence of events and characters. I did find it difficult to follow the narration, however, as the book jumps from character to character leaving the reader wondering who the protagonist of the current chapter is. The Madonnas of Echo Park is at times hauntingly sad. I want to read it again to really appreciate it's intricacy, which I believe I missed due to the lack of clarity in the character definition.
  astridnr | Sep 27, 2013 |
At least three reviewers were not aware that the "Author's Note" was actually part of the novel. I found the clever use of this introductory piece was brilliant. It helped to lead the reader into the story as though personally guided by the author. Of course it also established the writer's independence and complete control of the work.
  OneSmartCookie | Sep 7, 2012 |
The writing is this book is so beautiful, so heart-breaking, that at times it is hard to go forward. There's a level of overwhelming to the stories. The last one, where everything is supposed to come together, is the weakest and maybe too coincidental to be believable, but overall, an incredibly strong linked-story collection. ( )
  reluctantm | May 14, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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They thought I was Mexican, of course; and in a way I am. -Jack Kerouac, On the Road

It's no fun to pick on Mexicans. You guys got a country. -Richard Pryor

For Kitt-en, who's on every page Miss you
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We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.
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A novel that explores the lives of those who shed their ethnic identity in pursuit of the American dream highlights a different character in each chapter, including Hector, a middle-aged day laborer who witnesses a murder, and his ex-wife Felicia, who survives a drive-by shooting.… (more)

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