Cover image for Fantasmas : supernatural stories by Mexican American writers
Title:
Fantasmas : supernatural stories by Mexican American writers
Author:
Johnson, Rob, 1961-
Publication Information:
Tempe, Ariz. : Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xvii, 185 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781931010023
Format :
Book

Available:*

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PS648.F3 F344 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Combining elements of folktales, traditional and urban legend, and pop culture, the 19 tales in this unique anthology illustrate the attraction of Mexican American writers to the fantastic and supernatural. The range of the stories themselves--in length, tone, setting, style, and the relative goodness or evilness of the spirits involved--adds to the richness of the collection. Among the most chilling is the shortest, "Cantinflas," by Stephen D. Gutierrez, in which in barely three pages a boy's puppet attacks and devours its young owner in a dream. Its horror is exceeded, however, by "Lilith's Dance," by Gary Hernandez, with a possessed NYU English professor on a killing spree. In a lighter tone, a serendipitous coexistence of the human and spirit worlds leads to middle-aged romance in "Beyond Eternity," by Elva Trevino Hart. And benevolence extends to the miraculous in "Michelle's Miracle," by Kelley Jacquez, in which women share stories of lives being saved by unexplained means. With something to haunt everyone, this could find a place in both literary and popular collections. --Michele Leber


Library Journal Review

These two works are similar in origin but different in genre. Bierhorst's features over 100 stories in a more traditional style from Mexico, Central America, the American Southwest, and South America. Many read like traditional European fairy tales, which should not be surprising since they reflect a strong Spanish Colonial influence, even though they have sprouted from the seedbed of indigenous folklore. The first part of this book contains Aztec and Inca legends but not very ancient ones; most date from the time just prior to or during the Conquest. The second part of the book features dynamic tales reflecting all short story or folktale genres: comic, anecdotal, moral, heroic, and religious. The tales are short and pithy and often pack a surprise punch line, making for extremely interesting reading. Fantasmas is a collection of stories by 19 well-known or emerging Mexican American writers whose inspirations seep from the cuento de fantasmas literally "ghost stories" but more a unique blend of folklore and faith, superstition and the supernatural. These tales and urban legends are modern, with a nod make that a bow to current pop culture's fascination with horror and the paranormal. They run the gamut from the grotesque ("Cantinflas," "Lilith's Dance") to those displaying gracia, that elusive, heart-lightening quality that divides art from craft ("Beyond Eternity," "Michelle's Miracle"). Still others, such as "The Gift," would make excellent X-Files material, although a strong moral is attached. Fascinating but disturbing, these tales may reflect the authors' need to purge themselves of personal or cultural fears. Public library patrons will enjoy the richness of the folktales and the sheer thrills transmitted by the fantasmas. And academic library patrons will have materials for cultural and ethnic studies now compiled into two convenient anthologies. Recommended for both types of libraries. Nedra C. Evers, Sacramento P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.