Endicott Mythic Fiction discussion

Spirits of the Ordinary: A Tale of Casas Grandes
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Spirits of the Ordinary > Spirits of the Ordinary - who's reading?

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message 1: by Odette (new) - added it

Odette | 316 comments Mod
Our September 2013 Endicott book is Spirits of the Ordinary: A Tale of Casas Grandes by Kathleen Alcala

Who's reading?


message 2: by Jalilah (last edited Sep 02, 2013 03:26PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jalilah | 132 comments Hi Odette! I have been wanting to read Spirits of the Ordinary for a long time! However I just thought I'd let you know that it is not easy to find. My library does not have a copy and my local book store could not find it for me either. I really want to read it, but don't know how soon I can get a copy.


message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (fireweaver) | 65 comments no luck with my library, either, but if you're willing to buy a copy, amazon has used ones for a penny + shipping (so around $4 total).


Melanti | 114 comments My library, fortunately, does have a copy, but it'll take a week or two to get it, due to the holiday weekend.


message 5: by Odette (new) - added it

Odette | 316 comments Mod
Jalilah, I completely sympathize. One of the ongoing challenges for me has also been lack of availability of Endicott books at the library. I'm sorry you're having such a hard time finding a copy.

Michelle, thanks for checking on amazon availability. I know some of our members live in other countries, so Amazon stock in the US may not be so easy to get where they live, but it's good to know it's out there.

My library only has a reference copy, which is better than nothing, but really inconvenient. I'm going to do my best to carve out some time to go there. I've wanted to read the book for a long time, too.


Margaret | 49 comments If I can get hold of a copy, I'll read it and join the discussion.


Melanti | 114 comments I finished it today.

I enjoyed it, but not as much as I've enjoyed other Latin American magical realism novels. It is rather unique though, in that the family in question is Jewish rather than Catholic, so it incorporates a slightly different mysticism.

I never really thought of the Spanish Inquisition being carried over to Spain's colonies, but it seems obvious in retrospect. So, the Jews driven out of Spain during that time were known as Sephardic Jews. Does that name apply to those affected in the colonies as well, or is there another name for that group?


message 8: by Jalilah (last edited Sep 12, 2013 09:47AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jalilah | 132 comments Sephardic refers to Jews who lived in North Africa and the Middle East via Spain. Ashkenazi to Jews who immigrated to Europe.
When Ferdinand and Isabella took over Spain from the Moors in the late 14 hundreds, there were large populations of both Jews and Muslims who had been living in Spain for centuries. At first they were told they could stay as long as they converted, however within a short time the Inquisition started. Everyone one who had family roots that were not 100% Christian-Spanish came under suspicion. These people did not really have any choices. It was either submit to torture where you would end up just admitting anything and then being burned at the stake, or dying under torture. Around this time the Americas were discovered and the " conversos" or people who had once been either Jewish or Muslim but converted to Catholicism left Spain in masses for the New World. Once there, some of these people continued to practice their original faith in secret, while others embrassed Catholisim completely. For this reason there is a high number of people with Sephartic Jewish ancestry in Latin America, including New Mexico.


Margaret | 49 comments I splurged and bought it from amazon (I'm working on a novel with a Mexican-american family, so I'm justifying it as research). It will probably be a couple of weeks before I read it, though.


Jalilah | 132 comments Margaret wrote: "I splurged and bought it from amazon (I'm working on a novel with a Mexican-american family, so I'm justifying it as research). It will probably be a couple of weeks before I read it, though."

Yay! I found it on amazon too! Margaret, Have you read Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. It is my all time favourite!


Margaret | 49 comments Jalilah wrote: "Margaret wrote: "I splurged and bought it from amazon (I'm working on a novel with a Mexican-american family, so I'm justifying it as research). It will probably be a couple of weeks before I read ..."

I haven't! But I see it at the bookstore I work at, so will pick it up. Thanks!


message 12: by Jalilah (last edited Oct 07, 2013 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jalilah | 132 comments I finished last night, it is 3 stars for me. It is unfortunate that there are comparisons to Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel in the blurb, because this book it's just not as good as the novels of either of these authors. What makes Spirits of the Ordinary different is the Jewish Mysticism and I wish she would have focused more on that part of the story instead of having so many characters. I did not get into the Zacarias character and understand how he changed. I think the twins and the photographer did not really add much to the story. I would have preferred to read more about Zacarius's parents, Julio and Mariana as well as follow up on what happened to his wife Estela. I think Isabel Allende is much better at weaving a tale with many characters in it and still managing to give them depth.


Margaret | 49 comments I finished this today. I enjoyed the combination of religions and cultures, but the novel felt disjointed to me. Perhaps because she switched perspectives so often, and she never really tied all the perspectives together. I also didn't like how she, at times, told me what to think about something. Like when Julio is over-gardening to the point that the garden becomes barren. Alcala says "by forbidding the plants to have a free will . . . Julio had inadvertently created a desert region that reflected the desolation of his own heart." I would rather have made that connection myself. I think then I would have felt something more for the characters. Did that bother anyone else?

Maybe I would have liked it better if it had been longer, each character having their own part instead of parts being parceled out every other chapter, or if she had just focused on one or two people. I'm not sure, and I did like her simpler pacing.


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