Sunday, January 17, 2021

Fortnightly Book, January 17

 When Rudolfo Anaya died in 2020, I knew I would at some point pick up his Bless Me, Ultima for a re-read, and this seems as good a time as any.

Anaya was born in 1937 in Pastura, New Mexico, and grew up in Santa Rosa. Bless Me, Ultima came about as an attempt to write a rite-of-passage novel about growing up in New Mexico, and he was thoroughly successful at that. It took a while to sell it to a publisher, because nobody was convinced that an English novel with that much Spanish in it would sell, but it was published in 1972, and became a New Mexican classic. It is the account of Antonio Marez, whose family takes in the curandera, Ultima, and from her Antonio learns about the past of his people and the land of which he is part, and from this how to grow out of boyhood and learn to love life.

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