Vintage Cisneros is the perfect introduction to the legendary writings of Sandra Cisneros. A graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Cisneros is a poet and novelist. Vintage Cisneros is a compendium of her poems, stories and several chapters from her first novel, The House on Mango Street.
This YA novel is the story of Esperanza, a Mexican-American girl growing up in Chicago. The thirteen-year old’s tone and language suffuse the book with authentic emotion. In a series of vignettes, Esperanza assesses her block, her friends, her universe. Though her name means ‘hope’ in Spanish, she says: “I would like to baptize myself a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees.” Of the world, she says, “You can never have too much sky.”
Vintage Cisneros also bears selections from Cisneros’ poetry and stories, such as “Eyes of Zapata” (a long story in the voice of his beloved that serves as a form of tribute to Emiliano Zapata), “All parts from Mexico, assembled in the USA or I am born,” “Someday my Prince Popocatépetl will come,” “Love Poem for a non-believer,” “You bring out the Mexican in me,” and others.
The writing is personal, specific, with beautiful imagery and sentiments that are searing in their honesty. Most times, Vintage Cisneros reads like a memoir. For example, in “Preface from My Wicked Wicked Ways,” Cisneros writes,
“What does a woman
willing to invent herself
at twenty-two or twenty-nine
do? A woman with no who nor how.
And how was I to know what was unwise.
I wanted to be [a] writer. I wanted to be happy.”
--Yolanda A. Reid