Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation

BOOK: Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
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Table of Contents
Praise for
Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
“This audaciously poetic and muscularly philosophical memoir is, alternately, a magical travelogue, a feverish reconstruction of family history, a perplexing detective novel, and finally, a personal spiritual odyssey back in time to Aztec mythology.”

San Jose Mercury News
(front page review)
“Santos is a vaquero poet at heart, but the laughter has turned to introspection and—may we still use this word?—wisdom.”

Chicago Tribune
(front page review)
“Santos counts the cost of immigration, assimilation and upward mobility in this graceful memoir, where intimate family chronicle alternates with introspective meditation on the Mexican past . . . he writes splendidly.”

The New York Times
“In his impressive memoir, John Phillip Santos attempts to locate the origin of that lingering loss among the descendants of the conquered Indians, and he does so with grand success. . . . What a wonderful story he has told here, in a memoir that is a brave and beautiful attempt to redeem a people out of a limbo of forgetting.”

Los Angeles Times
“Significant and unique . . . a beautiful, universal portrait of migration.”

The Washington Post
“There is a remembering here that strikes a deep chord. Mr. Santos tells his stories with clarity and serenity, as one looking back on a long, wide, winding road.”

Dallas Morning News
“[Santos] uses his talents to paint an incredibly rich portrait of his extended family . . . connecting the story to the birth of Mexico, the New World, the larger phenomenon of migration, and his brush with the apocalypse.”

The Village Voice
“Too big to fit in a review, and almost too big to fit in one heart.
is a book that only a journalist could dream, and only a poet could write.”

Austin Chronicle
“[Santos] masterfully weaves the stories of various unforgettable characters with the landscape and fragrance of their memories.”

The Miami Herald
“An unforgettable chronicle.”

Albuquerque Weekly Alibi
“An unrelentingly gorgeous memoir . . . [Santos] draws from centuries of history and great wells of emotion to construct a remembrance that flies in the face of his very words.”—
Texas Monthly
“A moving, intellectually powerful memoir of Mexican-American life . . . His fine memoir is certain to find a wide readership.”

Kirkus Reviews
“[An] elegantly crafted chronicle of one of the thousands of Mexican families who fled to El Norte during the Mexican Revolution. [Santo’s] book is one of the most insightful investigations into Mexican-American border culture available.”

Publishers Weekly
“Many Americans will find themselves in the narrative of upheaval and migration; they will recognize the difference between labored nostalgia and heartfelt loss.”

“It pains me when the incredible histories of our people are trivialized as magic realism; surviving is no magic act. In a time of global migrations and forgetting, these stories remember beyond the Alamo, beyond 1776, 1492, and 1519. I would recommend that the governors of Texas, California, and Arizona, the presidents of Mexico and the United States, and the director of the Immigration and Naturalization Service read this book. This is the map of one family, and perhaps all families who live on several borders. Here, then, are our documents, our papers. This story is our green card.”
—Sandra Cisneros, bestselling author of
The House on Mango Street
“This book is a tender treasure, a rare gift, a journey into the rich tapestry of a family’s life and migrations. Exquisitely woven, intrinsically poetic,
Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
moves fluidly among relatives and realities, cities and mysteries, unearthing, liking, shining deep light into the memory-caverns of our worlds. The best memoir I’ve ever read.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of
Never in a Hurry
“John Phillip Santos invokes the muses of homelessness. He draws his silhouette in the twilight and inserts it in an ancient mural whose meaning is beyond him. His ultimate realization is that his is a wandering soul but he is not—has never been—alone. His memoir is a lesson in humility.”
—Ilan Stavans
“John Santos’s powerful memoir is not a simple walk down memory lane, but rather a poetic exploration of the ways in which remembering and forgetting inform our fragile modes of surviving and thriving. From Texas to Oxford, from grandparents to Borges, Santos takes us on a poignant pilgrimage that ends deep within our souls.”—Cornel West, bestselling author of
Race Matters
John Phillip Santos, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, is the first Mexican American Rhodes scholar and the recipient of numerous literary awards. His articles on Latino culture, art, and politics have appeared in the
Los Angeles Times
, and the
San Antonio Express News.
He is writer and producer of more than forty television documentaries for CBS and PBS, three of them Emmy nominees. He lives in New York City, where he works in the Media Program of the Ford Foundation.
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane,
London W8 5TZ, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood,
Victoria, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road,
Auckland 10, New Zealand
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England
First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin,
a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. 1999
Published in Penguin Books 2000
Copyright © John Phillip Santos, 1999
All rights reserved
Frontispiece: Front page of
La Prensa
, January 10, 1939
Testimonio: The Garcia sisters (top to bottom): Madrina, Uela, Tía Pepa
Mexico Viejo:
The Burning of the Idols
, detail from
La Descripción de
, used by permission of Glasgow University Library
Peregrinaje: Wedding portrait, Juan José and Margarita Santos, 1915
Volador: Detail from
Códice Fernandez Leal
, used by permission of
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
CIP data available
eISBN : 978-1-440-67919-3

Para mis padres,
who gave me the story
Family Trees
Los Garcias
(Children in order of birth)
Francisco, UNCLE FRANK
, my grandmother
(died at birth)
Tía Pepa
(Manuel’s twin, died at birth)
Los Santos
Juan Nepumencio Santos m. Paula Sandoval
(Children in order of birth)
Juan José, my grandfather
Tía Panchita
Tía Chita
Tía Nela
(Children by Juan Nepumencio’s first marriage)
José León
Jesús María
Juan José Santos m
Margarita Garcia,
(Children in order of birth)
Juan José, Jr., my father
Beatriz, AUNT BEA
Margarita, AUNT MARGIE
Juan José Santos, Jr., DADDY, m
Lucille Lopez, MOTHER
John Phillip
George David
Charles Daniel
Los Lopez
Leonides Lopez m. Leandra Vela, GRANDMOTHER
BOOK: Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation
9.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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