Tag Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 91: Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I love book cover art. 

I was scrolling through my Goodreads page recently and noticed one of my friends add Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine to their TBR list.  The beautiful cover got my attention, and I bought book the next day.

Sabrina & Corina is the debut book of Kali Fajardo-Anstine and has received a lot of praise since its publication in 2019. Add me to the list of readers that love these eleven powerful and thought-provoking stories featuring Latinas of Indigenous descent as they struggle with acceptance, violence, and broken relationships.

My favorite story of the entire book is Galapago. Galapago tells the story of Pearla Ortiz, a widow, who has an encounter with a man that breaks into her home.  Pearla’s granddaughter, Alana, comes to live with her and wants to sell the house and move her grandmother into senior housing. Pearla refuses to sell for sentimental reasons and one night faces the trespasser with tragic consequences.  Fajardo-Anstine does an excellent job weaving the backstory of Pearla with her husband in their home and the changing aspect of their neighborhood.  The vivid writing captures both widowhood and the dynamics of the neighborhood in transition.  Pearla’s instinct for survival is still on my mind after reading the story a few days later.

There is not a bad story in the book.  Some of my other favorites are Sugar Babies, the story of an eighth-grade girl named Sierra who discovers a dead woman at the edge of a small southern Colorado town named Saguarita. How did the woman get there? What will Sierra and her friend Robbie Martinez find out? Also, she takes part in a class project where she has to turn a 5 lb bag of sugar into a doll and takes care like it is a baby.  Fajardo-Anstine’s lucid prose brings this improbable story to life.

Other favorites are Tomi, Any Further West, and the title story, Sabrina & Corina. Fajardo-Anstine has brought a much-needed perspective to contemporary fiction, and this is the best short story collection by a single author I have read since Charles De Lint’s Dreams Underfoot.  Short stories are the stepchildren of modern fiction, but it’s an art form that deserves more respect and a great way to build up reading muscles.

Bravo Kali Fajardo-Anstine for these powerful stories.  Sabrina & Corina is my second favorite book of the year alongside The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton.

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 88: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

“And so, by circuitous and unpredictable routes, we converge toward midcontinent and meet in Madison, and are at once drawn together, braided and plaited into a friendship. It is a relationship that has no formal shape, there are no rules or obligations or bonds as in marriage or the family, it is held together by… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 58: Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anaya

One of the great joys of reading fiction is when you get a novel that makes want to read on after you finished it.  There are a lot of novels I have enjoyed reading, but once I close the book or eBook (these days) then I’m done with it.  Well, Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anaya is… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 44: The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

There is a popular meme where a guy is walking with his girlfriend and another woman walks past them.  He turns to check out the woman’s backside to the dismay of his girlfriend.  We have used the meme for all kinds of things, including how readers have always succumbed to new book fever. The girlfriend… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 42: Face of an Angel by Denise Chavez

Rereading a novel can bring different expectations from when you first read it over twenty-five years ago.  This is the case with Face of An Angel by Denise Chavez. Face of an Angel tells the story of Soveida Dosamantes, a waitress at El Farol Restaurant in the fictional New Mexican town of Agua Oscura.  Soveida… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 2: Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford

I’m a reading completist. I did not realize completist was a word until I typed this review.  I felt it’s appropriate for my latest Wisdom From Kammbia review. In 2015, I read and wrote a review for The Sportswriter by Richard Ford, the first Frank Bascombe novel. I wrote that I hated the protagonist and… Continue Reading