Subtexts Books by Antonio C. Márquez and Jennifer Faus
Two new books connected to New Mexico take on the concept of memory in divergent ways. Volver: A Persistence of Memory, by Albuquerque resident Antonio C. Márquez, published by University of New Mexico Press, is a modestly lyrical and straightforward memoir of growing up in a family of Mexican immigrants in El Paso during and after World War II. Márquez, a professor emeritus of English language and literature at the University of New Mexico, takes readers through his young adulthood in Texas and California, and his enlistment in the Marine Corps during war in Vietnam — after which he became an anti-war and civil-justice activist. Throughout the book, Márquez emphasizes the importance cultural and ethnic diversity has played in his life, beginning in childhood when he and his family spoke Spanish with their Chinese neighbors, who had also emigrated from Mexico.
In The Slotted Spoon (Koser Howe Publishing), Jennifer Faus turns other people’s sad stories into poetry and short essays. Faus spent the better part of two years on a road trip in the American Southwest, mainly in New Mexico national parks, gathering stories from people she met along the way. Each piece is written from a different persona, giving voice to traumatic stories often kept buried. The title section is a prose poem about a cruel mother who believes her daughter is ungrateful — despite the mother’s neglect and penchant for sabotaging her child’s efforts at basic survival: “She will give you a slotted spoon for your broth and if you question her decision she will tell you — you are spoiled, ungrateful.//And when you say, she gave me a slotted spoon to eat my broth, she cries out, I would never do such a thing!”
— Jennifer Levin