El Milagro and Other Stories
Patricia Preciado Martin University of Arizona Press, 1996 Library of Congress PS3563.A7272M55 1996 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Ticking clocks and tolling bells, scents of roses and warm tortillas: this is the barrio of years past as captured in the words of Patricia Preciado Martin. Cuentos, recuerdos, stories, memories—all are stirred into a simmering caldo by a writer whose love for her heritage shines through every page.
Reminiscent of Like Water for Chocolate, the book is a rich mix of the simplest ingredients—food, family, tradition. We see Silviana striding to her chicken coop, triggering the "feathered pandemonium" of chickens who smell death in the air. We meet Elena, standing before the mirror in her wedding dress, and Teodoro Sánchez, who sleeps under the sky and smells of “chaparral and mesquite pollen and the stream bottom and the bone dust of generations. There’s the monsignor sitting on the edge of a sofa, sipping Nescafé from a china cup, and here is Sister Francisca "with her warm, minty breath" warning us away from impure thoughts. Be on your best behavior, too, in Tía Petra’s Edwardian parlor—la Doña Petrita, descended from conquistadores, might just deliver a tap on your head with her silver-handled walking stick. Then, with Mamacita, spend a summer afternoon bent over your embroidery with trembling hand and sweaty upper lip, and all the while wondering what in the world it feels like to be kissed.
Intermingled with the author’s stories are collective memories of the barrio, tales halfway between heaven and earth that seem to connect barrio residents to each other and to their past. These cuentos are mystical and dreamy, peopled with ghosts and miracles and Aztec princesses dressed in feathers and gold. Come, sit down and have some salsa and a tortilla—fresh and homemade, it goes without saying; people who buy tortillas at the market "might as well move to Los Angeles, for they have already lost their souls." Then open the pages of this book. Help yourself to another feast of food and flowers, music and dancing, sunshine and moonlight—everything glorious and mundane, serious and humorous, earthly and spiritual, poignant and joyful, in la vida mexicoamericana.
For more than a hundred years, archaeologists have investigated the function of earthen platform mounds in the American Southwest. Built by the Hohokam groups between A.D. 1150 and 1350, these mounds are among the few monumental structures in the Southwest, yet their use and the nature of the groups who built them remain unresolved. Mark Elson now takes a fresh look at these monuments and sheds new light on their significance. He goes beyond previous studies by examining platform mound function and social group organization through a cross-cultural study of historic mound-using groups in the Pacific Ocean region, South America, and the southeastern United States.
Using this information, he develops a number of important new generalizations about how people used mounds. Elson then applies these data to the study of a prehistoric settlement system in the eastern Tonto Basin of Arizona that contained five platform mounds. He argues that the mounds were used variously as residences and ceremonial facilities by competing descent groups and were an indication of hereditary leadership. They were important in group integration and resource management; after abandonment they served as ancestral shrines. Elson's study provides a fresh approach to an old puzzle and offers new suggestions regarding variability among Hohokam populations. Its innovative use of comparative data and analyses enriches our understanding of both Hohokam culture and other ancient societies.