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The Madonnas of Echo Park (2010)

av Brando Skyhorse

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3111784,872 (3.58)4
A novel that explores the lives of those who shed their ethnic identity in pursuit of the American dream highlights a different character in each chapter, including Hector, a middle-aged day laborer who witnesses a murder, and his ex-wife Felicia, who survives a drive-by shooting.
  1. 00
    Sjunk av Junot Díaz (ShortStoryLover)
    ShortStoryLover: Both books feature Latin American cultures (albeit different ones) and are collections of short stories.
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» Se även 4 omnämnanden

Visa 1-5 av 17 (nästa | visa alla)
I found this to be an interesting companion piece to Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat, which I read earlier this year, but my opinion of this book may have suffered by the comparison. I do enjoy the concept of interrelated stories that create an overall novel-like effect and it has been used to memorable effect by Saroyan (The Human Comedy) and Steinbeck (Tortilla Flat and The Pastures of Heaven).

I will start out by saying that I enjoyed at least half of these stories very much. The Blossoms of Los Feliz, Our Lady of the Lost Angels, Rules of the Road, Yo Soy El Army and The Hustler were quite good. The others I felt tried a bit too hard to force something extraordinary to come out of very ordinary characters and situations, which just didn’t work for me. The obsessions of teenaged girls with pop stars that drive several of the other stories didn’t resonate with me and the last (and in my opinion the weakest) story in the work, La Luz y La Tierra, seemed to be a conscious (and rather long) attempt to gather all of the story lines together when it just wasn’t necessary. In the weaker stories I felt that I was being beaten over the head with the “message” that I was expected to take away.

Tortilla Flat deals with the same ethnic group at a different place in the history of California, yet Steinbeck brings a mythical air and humor to the lives of these characters that is lacking in Skyhorse’s work, which is admittedly more current and gritty, but also more deliberate and lacks the master’s subtle touch. But considering that this is Skyhorse’s first novel the jacket blurb to the effect that we may be witnessing the coming of a top notch new literary talent may well be true. I certainly plan on following this author.
( )
  ChrisMcCaffrey | Apr 6, 2021 |
#unreadshelfproject2020. Not a fan of the style in which this book is written. It feels like short stories rather than a cohesive book. The subject matter was quite interesting, the lives of Mexican/Americans in Echo Park. I will say I was held in awe by some parts, but others left me feeling lost. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Apr 14, 2020 |
I'd give this another half star if I could.

I liked this with reservations - my biggest one being it's not a novel, it's a short story collection and it tries a little bit too hard. But golly, great sense of place and I loved the way he uses popular music. Anytime Madonna's Borderline video is a major plot point, I'm in.

I will definatly keep this author on my radar. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Sep 29, 2017 |
Somewhere between a 3 and a 4. There was so much to love here. I was captivated by the way I was pulled into this neighborhood, these lives. I continued to love the characters Skyhorse created for us. The quality of each tale in the book varied a good deal. I absolutely adored "Cool Kids", the end of which was a gutpunch, but some of the stories were underdeveloped. More importantly though some of this was spectacularly overwritten. I regularly stumbled on sentences which were beautifully composed but pulled down the narrative. There were some really painful metaphors too -- I can't remember the exact quote but there was something that referred to the flow of conversation as being like stretching stale taffy. Really? I can't recall a book which made me think of the words "kill your darlings" so frequently. Overall a very good portrait of a neighborhood and a time most of us know little about conveyed in a unique and compelling voice. ( )
  Narshkite | Apr 4, 2017 |
California has temporarily displaced Alabama in my themed ranking of American states I like to read about but haven't actually visited. Brando Skyhorse's novel, or collection of vignettes, about the Mexican community of Echo Park was recommended on various helpful reading lists, and gives a flavour of the area.

All of the characters - from Aurora, who supposedly inspired the author in his clever introductory chapter, to her mother Felicia, a cleaning lady, plus Hector, Cristina, Angie, Efren, Freddy - are distinct in their voices, yet drawn to the other characters by family ties and chance meetings. The random acts of violence are shocking - Hector witnesses a murder, Efren hits a young boy with his bus - in the midst of such lyrical storytelling, but the bad decisions and flawed relationships of the characters make them all the more real. Personally, I just enjoyed reading about a small part of California, the good with the bad, through the memories of the author and the eyes of the fictional people who live there in his story.

I had trouble translating the Spanish dialogue (perhaps that was the point) and the last chapter was too heavy-handed for me, but otherwise this is a beautiful book which gave me an insight into the immigrant culture of Los Angeles. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | May 30, 2014 |
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They thought I was Mexican, of course; and in a way I am. -Jack Kerouac, On the Road

I wish I was born Mexican, but it's too late for that now. -Morrissey

It's no fun to pick on Mexicans. You guys got a country. -Richard Pryor

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For Kitt-en, who's on every page Miss you
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We slipped into this country like thieves, onto the land that once was ours.
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A novel that explores the lives of those who shed their ethnic identity in pursuit of the American dream highlights a different character in each chapter, including Hector, a middle-aged day laborer who witnesses a murder, and his ex-wife Felicia, who survives a drive-by shooting.

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