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Tales from the House of Vasquez

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  54 ratings  ·  14 reviews
After giving birth to her son, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland had a nervous breakdown so severe her husband quit his job to help with the baby. Two years later, she examined the experience with poetry. Mental illness runs on her mother’s side of the family, with the Vasquez women specifically. As Gilliland searched for the reasons why these women suffered, she found stories. Som ...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 1st 2018 by Rattle Foundation
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Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
It’s no longer a surprise: if Rattle awards a chapbook prize, I’m going to want to read the book. Gilliland thoroughly charmed me. Here’s to the strong Vasquez women who inspired this collection full of warmth, wit, folklore, myth, magic, and feminism.

Although I prefer short poems, the longest in the chapbook, “The Tale of Called Magic” (more than four pages) grabbed me in the first stanza and didn’t let go even when I finished. This author just may be Poe reincarnated as a modern Latina, unafra
Nicholas Trandahl
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a gorgeous chapbook! These poems are rich familial myths of earth, nature, storytelling, and femininity.
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My first reaction was “huh?” But when I slowed down and reread these poems, all related to the poet's family heritage, I began to appreciate the blend of English and Spanish, the mundane and the mystical. The centerpiece of this collection is “The Tale of Called Magic,” which offers a hearty mix of superstition, witchcraft, and faith. Imagine a grave site where someone sprinkles magic parsley seeds. The next day, the grave is covered with parsley, including a clump in the shape of a hand, like t ...more
Emma Filtness
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautiful Rattle chapbook exploring family, folklore and feminism. Its examinations of hereditary mental illness and motherhood are handled with a tender poignancy and explored through metaphor, myth, heritage and magic.
Monica Flegg
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing

This book of poems captivates the reader. You'll lean back (perhaps against a tree) and reread it again and again so that its messages can penetrate your heart.
Doren Damico
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This book and its stories enthrall and embrace the reader. Welcome to parsley ghosts in the graveyard, motherhood that feels like your spine is forever on the outside, and seeing through multiple alchemical eyes. A brilliant invitation to the inside of a Mexican-American family! Highly recommend to any poet!
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
With her fourteen tales/poems, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland takes us on a series of surreal journeys during which eyes can appear in the back of the head, and hands (made of parsley leaves) can emerge from the grave. Grounded in psychological truths, the images never feel forced or frivolous and while the poems deal with grief and loss and pain, there's also a kind of cultural and familial celebration at work here that uplifts you all the while. ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another of the great chapbooks from Rattle that make one almost glad that she didn't win the competition. I was totally enthralled with the Tales from start to finish. Thank you, Raquel. ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Another great Rattle chapbook. I loved the magical poems of parsley growing up from graves and sending those who eat it to speak in tongues, of bears who grant sight through the eyes on the back of your head. Equally, I appreciated the poems that addressed the more common world—the spite of a woman married at thirteen, or “The Tale of Postpartum”: “The doctor is ancient / and I don’t think / she can hear me / when I say, my columna / vertebral is on / the outside now. // She asks, do you like / ...more
David Anthony Sam
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In "Tales from the House of Vasquez," Raquel Vasquez Gilliland melds autobiography with myth and fairy tale to create a feminist history of the women of her family and her personal crisis--and an archetype of the human. At times surreal, at times poignantly real, these poems dance with energy and hope in the face of death and the oppression of the male priests of the mundane and spiritless "real" world. In the end, the feminine wins by persisting in seeing with "all four eyes...opened like stars ...more
Very visual, at times like a dream, but often disturbing too. I liked this chapbook but I didn’t love it. It is unique and beautifully written, but just didn’t grab me...maybe just not my style. I appreciate how well-crafted this is but it didn’t sing to me in the way that other Rattle chapbooks have.
Jun 06, 2021 rated it liked it
What is experimental about this poetry? Form no. Content also not. If so, it's a nice read. I expected more. ...more
Ray Zimmerman
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous Poetry
The author uses a number of nature metaphors to establish an identity.
Bill DeGenaro
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The image that grabbed me was the narrator's abuela pouring coffee between two cups to cool it off--"so the heat could fly away." ...more
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Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist, and painter. She received an MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains. Raquel has published two boo ...more

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