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Anthropologies: A Family Memoir
by Beth Alvarado
University of Iowa Press, 2011
eISBN: 978-1-60938-038-0 | Paper: 978-1-60938-037-3
Library of Congress Classification PS3601.L864Z46 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.6

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

A vivid archive of memories, Beth Alvarado’s Anthropologies layers scenes, portraits, dreams, and narratives in a dynamic cross-cultural mosaic. Bringing her lyrical tenor to bear on stories as diverse as harboring teen runaways, gunfights with federales, and improbable love, Alvarado unveils the ways in which seemingly separate moments coalesce to forge a communal truth. Woven from the threads of distinct family histories and ethnic identities, Anthropologies creates a heightened understanding of how individual experiences are part of a larger shared fabric of lives.



 

Like the opening of a series of doors, each turn of the page reveals some new reality and the memories that emerge from it. Open one door and you are transported to a modest Colorado town in 1966, appraising animal tracks edged into a crust of snow while listening to stories of Saipan. Open another and you are lounging in a lush Michoacán hacienda, or in another, the year is 1927 and you are standing on a porch in Tucson, watching La Llorona turn a corner.

 

With vivid imagery and a poetic sensibility, Anthropologies reenacts the process of remembering and so evokes a compelling narrative. Each snapshot provides a glimpse into the past, illuminating the ways in which memory and history are intertwined. Whether the experience is of her own drug use or that of a great-great-grandmother’s trek across the Great Plains with Brigham Young, Alvarado’s insight into the binding nature of memory illuminates a new way of understanding our place within families, generations, and cultures.

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