Tag: DonQuixote

Female Latina and Hispanic Characters that Don’t Suck

I grew up on Gabriel García Márquez and Julio Cortázar, and as is the case with anyone with minimal sensitivity for masterful language and smart poetic prose, I fell in love with their work. It wasn’t a healthy kind of love, though; it was the kind of love in which I pretended not to see all the red flags and continuously reminded myself how perfect the object of my affections was, in hopes that my affirmations would make the soul-crushing bits disappear. Since this is literally the first thing I would call out in any relationship between humans (fictional or otherwise), I had to walk the walk and face my actual feelings: it’s hard to enjoy a novel with total abandon when the female characters are unidimensional, flighty, and blatantly, exclusively there for the consumption and advancement of their male counterparts.

Raining cats and dogs, or an accurate representation of the troll storm I am about to endure, via Wikipedia

The truth is One Hundred Years of Solitude was my favorite novel for over a decade, and the fabric of it is so deliciously intricate and wild that I can’t bring myself to just chuck it. Realizing how completely colonized most of García Márquez’s women are (as strong as they may appear at first glance), and how blatantly abused romantic leads like la Maga are in Cortázar’s most famous work (no one bats an eye at this, by the way), was jarring, eye-opening, and heartbreaking for me.

I really was, guys… Via E! Online

That doesn’t mean I’ve personally cancelled Gabo or Julio; it just means that my relationship to Hopscotch now looks a lot like my relationship to The Sound of Music’s “Sixteen Going On Seventeen”: I flow with its dated, vintage charm, but die a little inside every time the sexism screeches through like a banshee.

So, as a hungry hungry bookworm and a devout lover of my mother tongue the Spanish language, I have set forth on a quest to find stories with relatable female characters with thoughts, feelings, and dilemmas of their own. They do not have to be necessarily strong or liberated or accomplished (although it rocks when they are); their relationship with the world, with domesticity, or with other genders is irrelevant, as long as they reasonably resemble actual women you might meet in real life. I’m feeling like a feminist Doña Quixote, setting forth on a literature-inspired morality quest in a world of manic pixie windmills and disposable characters. Onward, Gato Panza!

Gato Panza, via Funnypics

Below is a list of characters I have come across that have fit the full-fledged/realistic criteria, as well as some of the newest notches on my TBR list.

1. Marcela, Don Quijote (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

I love Don Quixote, I love Cervantes, and I especially love the unexpected proto-feminist speech that the beautiful goatherd Marcela gives when her admirer Grisóstomo commits suicide due to unrequited lovesickness. As was the custom in seventeenth century Spanish literature, the beautiful woman who rejected the perfectly good man whom she was just not interested in, got a tsunami of hate from the male characters in the story, who curse her cruelty and her wickedness in supposedly taking the life of her poor admirer, and so on, and so forth, evil evil evil woman. Not only does Marcela stand her ground and honor her commitment to her simple farm life and her lack of interest in marriage, but Don Quixote defends her, claiming that Marcela is the kind of woman that knights like himself have the duty to protect—single women, who were more vulnerable to opportunistic men and rapists. This was written by a man in the early seventeenth century, by the way, which makes the fact that Marcela’s speech still applies today particularly surprising. You go, Migue.

Marcela giving zero cattle farts, via Top of Art

 

2. Paulina Del Valle, Portrait in Sepia (Isabel Allende)

I would actually not mind a retelling of this story entirely from Paulina’s perspective. Paulina Del Valle is the full character package: we see her as the young daughter of nineteenth century Chilean privilege, falling in love with her future husband, and eloping together. We see her as a wildly successful entrepreneur with a jolly sex life. We see her as a woman who loves to eat (if you lived in the land of dulce de leche, you would too), and who becomes so insecure about her body, she puts cracks in her own marriage. We see her as an immigrant, as a jealous wife, as a seasoned sailor of the social ropes, and as a voraciously committed grandmother. Paulina is human and monument in equal measure, and so real you’ll be sure you’ve met before, or wish you had.

Because there is zero shame in having dessert, via Pinterest

3. Xiomara Batista, The Poet X (Elizabeth Acevedo)

This one is on my TBR list, so while I will be able to speak more at length about it once I have read it, the premise is promising. Xiomara Batista, a young Harlem native with Dominican heritage, is growing up in a devoutly Christian household, and in a world that desperately wants to hypersexualize her curvy body. Author Elizabeth Acevedo puts the infuriatingly common “spicy latina” trope under a microscope and an interrogation lamp at the same time, and gives us a character who, in the midst of being silenced by religion and made afraid of her own body by society, finds empowerment in poetry. A harmful trope down the food disposal and good slam poetry? Count me in.

Author Elizabeth Acevedo mid-slam poem (and also a mood), via Aint I Latina?

4. Malú, The First Rule of Punk (Celia C. Pérez)

A middle-grade book, but nonetheless a shiny stereotype-breaker, Malú’s adventures in school is the happy latinx kid story you didn’t know you needed. 12-year-old Malú does not appear able to mesh the palpable mexicanidad she sees in her mother with her own Chuck Taylors-and-loud-punk-rock personality. But this story is not about that; this story is about Malú going through the universal struggle of coming to terms with being herself. No tragic losses, no chronic abuse, no telenovela-worthy storylines.

Malú on the cover of “The First Rule of Punk,” via Mitu

5. The women from Nosotras que nos queremos tanto, Marcela Serrano

Also on my TBR list, the entirety of Marcela Serrano’s work has been at some point dubbed by male critics as “a glimpse into the female psyche.” This is both dryly amusing (as male critics could alternatively just ask their wives), and telling of how authentic Serrano’s female characters are. In We Who Love Each Other So Much a group of women come together and air out their wounds, their wants, and the dead ends of their place in society. Serrano’s works Ten Women; The Hotel of the Sad Women; Farewell, Little Women; and My Sweet Enemy follow similar premises. It would seem that Marcela Serrano has set out on a journey to write a complex woman for every woefully flat female character ever created, and I am all for it.

Community art, via Pinterest

6. Narrator, Palabras sin escolta (Elsa Tió)

Poetry has been a relatively safe space for Latin American women to articulate thoughts and emotions, so of course I must include at the very least a drop’s worth on this list. In this salty, breezy, beachy anthology (metaphorical mentions of the sea as a rejuvenating force propel me to describe it thus), Elsa Tió notices the movement of the world around her and never stops shifting herself. The exoskeleton of her reflections are rooted in the natural world around her: the mystery of shadows, the permanence of the moon, the depth of water, permeate throughout, gripping and grounding the reader. Tió levels with us and speaks of fear, freedom, love, and solitude, delivering us an unlikely cocktail of grounded humility and cyclonic empowerment.

Elsa Tió vibes, via Artist.com

7. Gabriela Mistral’s Madwomen

A writer as prolific as she was bold, Gabriela Mistral gives voice to every emotion that remained under the skin of Latin American women, should they survive in society. Each poem is titled a label— “the anxious one,” “the abandoned one,” “the detached one”—and unpacks the tides of emotion beneath the skin of such a labeled person. Mistral doesn’t make up anything; she listens to the women of the world and puts the most painful of their stories on wings.

Alchemical screaming, via Artstation

Latinx poetry, honestly, could be its own category in unfiltered expression, but since prose has a tendency to skew even more male than poetry traditionally has, I remain determined to tell the giants from the windmills. Honorable mentions include the essays of Ana Lydia Vega and the poetic work of Alfonsina Storni (if you want to see a nineteenth century woman stick it to purity double standards in a way that is still relevant verbatim).

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

 

 

Personajes Femeninos en la Literatura Hispana Que No Son Una Mierda

Yo me crié leyendo a Gabriel García Márquez y a Julio Cortázar, y como es el caso con cualquiera que tenga un mínimo de sensibilidad artística, me enamoré de su obra. Este no fue un amor saludable, sino una de esas relaciones en las cuales me hacía de la vista larga cada vez que notaba alguna burrada, y me mentía a mí misma intentando convencerme de lo perfectamente contenta que me encontraba. Ya que ésta es una de las primeras conductas nocivas que me llamarían la atención en cualquier relación entre humanos de carne y hueso, opté por la integridad y decidí ser honesta conmigo misma: me cuesta disfrutarme una novela del todo cuando sus personajes femeninos son unidimensionales, vápidos, e indudablemente construidos como mecanismos desechables del autor para avanzar la historia, o para ser consumidos por los personajes masculinos.

 Los chinches que me van a caer, imagen de Wikipedia

Sé que me van a llover las críticas. La realidad es que Cien años de soledad fue mi novela favorita por más de diez años, y su prosa es tan poética y compleja que no consigo sencillamente deshacerme de ella. Percatarme de los colonizadas que son las mujeres de García Márquez (por más fuertes que aparenten ser) y del abuso que aguanta, por ejemplo, la Maga en la obra más famosa de Cortázar, me pareció tan trágico como revelador.

En serio que sí, chicos, imagen de E! Online

Esto no significa que Julio y Gabo han sido cancelados hasta nuevo aviso (por lo menos para mí). Lo que significa es que mi apreciación de sus obras se parece a mi experiencia escuchando la canción “Sixteen Going On Seventeen” del clásico The Sound of Music: el viaje a la estética del pasado y la historieta de amor entre jóvenes son bienvenidos, pero me da un corto circuito cada vez que el machismo se hace sentir más allá de la vista larga. Nadie tiene la vista tan larga, señores…

Lectora voraz al fin, me he echado encima la búsqueda de personajes femeninos en nuestra literatura latinoamericana e hispana que se asemejen razonablemente a lo que es una mujer en la vida real. No un espejismo, no una fantasía sin raíces, sino una mujer. Éstas no tienen necesariamente que ser fuertes; su relación con el mundo, los demás géneros o la domesticidad es inmaterial, con tal de que sea una representación realista. Estoy en modo Doña Quijote: inspirada por la literatura a aventurarme al mundo de los molinos de vapidez y los personajes desechables. ¡Adelante, Gato Panza!

Gato Panza, imagen de FunnyPics

Aquí les dejo una lista de los que he encontrado hasta ahora, incluyendo algunos libros con personajes que prometen, pero que aún tengo pendientes leer.

1. Marcela, El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de La Mancha (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra)

Por si no se han percatado, amo la historia de Don Quijote y adoro más todavía el discurso pre-feminista de la bella campesina Marcela ante el suicidio de su admirador Grisóstomo, quien se quita la vida al no ser correspondido por Marcela. Marcela no solo se mantiene firme en su decisión de dedicarse al campo y permanecer soltera, sino que además Don Quijote la defiende y declara que son precisamente las mujeres como Marcela—solteras y más vulnerables ante los hombres oportunistas y los violadores—quienes les toca defender a los caballeros andantes. Dile ahí, Migue.

A Marcela le vale un peo de vaca, imagen de Top Of Art

2. Paulina Del Valle, Retrato en sepia (Isabel Allende)

No me molestaría en lo absoluto que existiera alguna versión de esta historia escrita desde de la perspectiva de Paulina. Paulina Del Valle es un banquete de personaje: la vemos joven, hija del privilegio chileno del siglo XIX, casada a escondidas con un marido que ella escogió. La vemos más adelante como empresaria feroz y con una alegre vida sexual. La vemos como inmigrante, como esposa celosa, como abuela entregada, como una amante de la comida y los dulces, y como una mujer que desarrolla un complejo con su apariencia física tan demoledor que termina por poner en jaque su matrimonio. Paulina es humana y es monumento en igual medida, tanto así que da la impresión de conocerla de antes.

Porque comer postre no tiene nada de vergonzoso, por Pinterest

3. Xiomara Batista, poeta X (Elizabeth Acevedo)

Este libro es de los que tengo pendientes, pero su premisa promete. Xiomara Batista, una joven dominicana criada en Harlem, se encuentra bajo la rigidez cristiana de su madre y en una sociedad que se empeña en hiper-sexualizar sus curvas recién-desarrolladas. Elizabeth Acevedo pone el cliché estadounidense de la latina ardiente contra la pared y bajo un microscopio, y nos presenta a un personaje que, a pesar del yugo religioso de su hogar y el de la sexualidad forzada de su sociedad, encuentra la libertad en la poesía.

La autora Elizabeth Acevedo recitando poesía, por Aint I Latina?

4. Malú, La primera regla del punk (Celia C. Pérez)

Esta es una historia para niños y no obstante un triturador de estereotipos. La pequeña Malú, al igual que el grueso del público estadounidense, no consigue casar la mexicanidad tradicionalista de su madre con su amor por el rock. Esta no es, sin embargo, la historia; Celia C. Pérez nos regala un cuento sobre una niña común y corriente mientras se enfrenta a los obstáculos comunes y corrientes de crecer y madurar. Cero tragedias, cero pérdidas traumáticas, cero abuso.

Malú  en la portada de “La primera regla del punk,” por Mitu

5. Las mujeres de Nosotras que nos queremos tanto (Marcela Serrano)

Los críticos de la literatura han indicado en más de una ocasión que la producción literaria de Marcela Serrano casi en su totalidad “consigue penetrar la psicología femenina.” Un concepto alucinante, considerando lo fácil que sería para estos críticos conseguir tal hazaña si hablaran con sus mujeres. Al mismo tiempo, esta crítica parece indicadora de lo auténticas que son las mujeres de Marcela Serrano. En Nosotras que nos queremos tanto, un grupo de mujeres airean entre sí sus dolores, sus deseos y las cadenas de la sociedad en la que viven. Sus novelas Diez mujeres; El albergue de las mujeres tristes; Hasta siempre, mujercitas; y Dulce enemiga mía comparten tramas similares. Parecería que Marcela Serrano se ha echado encima la tarea de hacerle contrapeso a todos los personajes femeninos vacíos habidos y por haber, y francamente, me está dando vida.

Comunidad de mujeres, por Pinterest

6. La narradora, Palabras sin escolta (Elsa Tió)

La poesía ha sido un albergue para la expresión femenina sin censura, y por esto merece un lugar en esta lista. En esta antología matizada de salitre, vientos alisios y agua de mar (la mención metafórica del salitre y el mar como fuerza regeneradora me obliga a describirla así), Elsa Tió toma nota del mundo que la rodea y no deja de mutar. La raíz de sus reflecciones está en el mundo natural: el misterio de las sombras, la permanencia de la luna, la profundidad de las aguas, permean a través de esta colección, agarrando al lector por los hombros y poniendo sus pies firmes en la tierra. Tió nos cuenta sobre el miedo, la libertad, el amor y la soledad, regalándonos así un cóctel de aguzada humildad y poder ciclónico.

Elsa Tió vibes, por Artist.com

7. Las Locas mujeres de Gabriela Mistral

Tan prolífica como audaz, Gabriela Mistral le da voz y validez al ecosistema de emociones que la mujer latinoamericana esconde por pura supervivencia. Cada poema tiene por título un diagnóstico social—“la ansiosa,” “la abandonada”, “la desasida”—y asimismo disecta cada uno. Mistral no se inventa nada, sino que escucha a las mujeres del mundo y pone a volar sus historias más dolorosas.

La alquimia del grito, por Artstation

La poesía latinoamericana podría ser su propio artículo, en cuanto a la expresión liberada de la mujer. Como la prosa sigue siendo más territorio masculino aún que la poesía (y eso podría ser bastante decir), sigo aquí en mi misión de separar los gigantes de los molinos. Algunas menciones muy honorables son los ensayos de Ana Lydia Vega y la obra poética de Alfonsina Storni (si a alguno le apetece ver como una mujer en pleno siglo XIX le hace frente al doble estándar de la castidad y la pureza, de tal forma que al sol de hoy aplica).

¡Feliz mes de la herencia hispana!

Featured image via Pinterest

 

copy of infinite jest with many notes

11 Brilliant Novels That Are Longer Than 1,000 Pages

In the age of 140 characters or less, there is still something to be said for reading a novel that is truly, deeply, maddeningly long. And if you think 1,000+ pages isn’t that much, you’re probably living on another plane of existence and should not stoop to the level of mere mortals such as ourselves. Happy reading. 
 

 

  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

          Page count: 1,273

 

war and peace cover

Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House

 

Early 19th century Russia? Check. Napoleonic aggression? Check. Messy families and passionate romance? Check! If you’re ready for it, War and Peace will give you the ride of your life through the expanse of history and the overbearing weight of humanity.

 

  1. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

          Page count: 1,088

 

infinte jest cover

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

Most people would not consider the exploits of a tennis-playing dysfunctional family worthy of 1,088 pages, but most people aren’t the late great David Foster Wallace. Like other authors on this list, Wallace is quite fond of footnotes. Hey, life in the margins doesn’t have to be gloomy!

 

  1. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin

         Page count: 1,125

 

dance with dragons cover

Image Courtesy of Best Dragons 2017

 

The fifth and latest book in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, Dance With Dragons is also the longest by far. You may want to read the first four for proper context.

 

  1. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

         Page count: 1,463

 

les miserables cover

Image Courtesy of Page Pulp

 

Ah, the glory days of 1862, when novelists weren’t constrained by little things like “plot” or “editing” when crafting their masterpieces. Much like Tolstoy, Hugo devotes space not only to the many storylines of his downtrodden characters, but to essays deconstructing the nature of heady topics like poverty and the French political system.

 

  1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

         Page count: 1,023

 

don quixote cover

Image Courtesy of Amazon

 

Widely regarded as the father of the modern novel, Cervantes does not aim for brevity in this tragicomic tale of a gallant fool’s effort to repair the world one menacing windmill at a time.

 

  1. The Stand by Stephen King                                                                                                        Page count: 1,153

 

the stand cover

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

 

The collapse of human civilization may be a bummer, but reading about it doesn’t have to be. With 99% of humanity gone, the traumatized survivors must limp on in the shadow of unspeakable evil. Reading 1,153 pages suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all, doesn’t it?

 

  1. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susannah Clarke

          Page count: 1,006

 

jonathan strange cover

Image Courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing

 

While the Russian aristocrats in War and Peace sip champagne and fall in love to the tune of Napoleon’s invasion, their counterparts in Great Britain prepare to fight the French menace with actual, honest-to-God magic. Here’s hoping no one takes it too far…

 

  1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

          Page count: 1,168

 

atlas shrugged cover

Image Courtesy of Goodreads

 

Love her or hate her, Rand made a lasting impact with this epic tale of ambition, wasted potential, and trains. Gotta love those trains.

 

     9. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

         Page count: 1,474

 

a suitable boy cover

Image Courtesy of Amazon

 

Set in newly independent India, A Suitable Boy follows a young girl and her mother as they attempt to see their very own marriage plot through amid the deep loves and tragedies of a handful of ordinary families trying to make their name in the brave new country.

 

  1. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

          Page count: 1,139

 

cryptonomicon cover

Image Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers 

 

Mathematician Alan Turing makes an appearance in this whirlwind tour through WWII secrets and the enticing world of code breakers. Wars, it seems, can always start, but they almost never truly end.

 

  1. The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Page count: 1,216

 

tale of genji cover

Image Courtesy of OverDrive

 

Considered by some to be the first novel ever written, The Tale of Genji portrays the soap opera-like existence of the Japanese aristocrats in the 11th century. Shikibu herself was a Japanese aristocrat in the 11th century, so you know it’s legit.

 

Featured image courtesy of Book Patrol.

Katniss Everdeen and Piggy

Perfect Couples From Different Books

While true love is timeless, and generally knows no bounds, things get complicated when the perfect pair lives in different books. Luckily, we’re happy to play matchmaker, and point compatible characters in each other’s directions.

 

Here are some potential romances we’d love to see blossom:

 

1. Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” and Piggy from “Lord of the Flies”

 

Katniss Everdeen and Piggy

via Playbuzz and Tumblr

 

Piggy is near and dear to any good book lover’s heart. Savagely squashed beneath a boulder, Piggy had been a symbol of unity amongst his vicious comrades. He might be under a rock, but we think crossing paths with Katniss would give him a different sort of crush.

 

via GIPHY

 

As the Mockingjay, Katniss is also a symbol of unity. Imagine discovering that commonality on Tinder. “Hey, you also represent hope to a dispossessed populace? No way!”

 

2. Don Quixote and Luna Lovegood from “Harry Potter”

 

Don Quixote and Luna Lovegood

via Stefan Mart and Harry Potter Wiki

 

These two daydreamers are known believers in the unbelievable, but the prospect of their romance would make even the most cynical soul believe in true love. If anyone can share in Don Quixote’s delusions, it would surely be Luna Lovegood.

 

Luna Lovegood wearing funny goggles

Those goggles could make any windmill look like a giant / via Pinterest

 

The age gap may be a little troublesome, but perhaps they can just imagine they’re closer in age. Remember, the power of imagination is limitless.

 

Spongebob making a rainbow with his hands.

via Nick

 

3. Marvin the Paranoid Android from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and Holden Caulfield from “The Catcher in the Rye”

 

Marvin and Holden Caulfield

via Polyvore and Erin Entrada Kelly

 

One of the most depressed, cynical lifeforms in the galaxy is Marvin the Paranoid Android. The other is a 16-year-old boy in Pennsylvania who really hates…pretty much the entire human race. Holden Caulfield might find love in a nonhuman, though. Who better to set him up with than Marvin? If ever Holden has concerns about the migration patterns of New York City ducks, then Marvin will give him the answer he most craves, but one of the best examples of this comes from the “Hitchhiker’s Guide” movie…

 

Arthur Dent: Marvin, any ideas?
Marvin: I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death.

 

4. Lady Macbeth and James Bond

 

Lady Macbeth and James Bond

via Twitter

 

There may not be a woman better suited to be a Bond girl than Lady Macbeth. If Bond was to get on her bad side, she wouldn’t hesitate to cut him down to size. She might like him better than Macbeth anyway since he doesn’t have any hang-ups with ghosts. Plus, they’re both Scottish.

 

James Bond holding a gun

“A medium dry martini, lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred–what’s that, dear? Nevermind. Just a seltzer.” / via Playbuzz

 

5. Lisbeth Salander from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and Sherlock Holmes

 

Lisbeth Salander and Sherlock Holmes

via Los Angeles Time and Epic Reads

 

Sherlock Holmes likes tricky women like Irene Adler, and Lisbeth Salander likes troubled sleuths like Mikail Blomkvist. Salander’s expert hacking is a tricky prospect indeed, but Holmes is no stranger to possibly unsavory behavior (like being addicted to cocaine). Plus, if this romance is adapted by Hollywood, it would unite Benedict Cumberbatch and Rooney Mara…finally.

 

via GIPHY

 

6. Tigger from “The House at Pooh Corner” and Shere Khan from “Jungle Book”

 

Tigger and Shere Khan

via Disney

 

There are so many wonderful things about Tiggers that there’s a whole song about it.

 

 

But does Shere Khan deserve him? Sure, he’s a murderous bully, but every ferocious feline has got a cute house cat beneath the surface. He just needs a bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy tiger life partner to bring out his sensitive side.

 

Now let’s hear from you. What characters from different books do you want to see get together?

 

Featured image courtesy of The Mary Sue and Tumblr