El Milagro and Other Stories

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

EL MILAGRO AND OTHER STORIES glows with appreciation for Mexican American culture past and present. Tucson writer Patricia Preciado Martin lyrically evokes the shared language, food, and traditions that bring people together.

Martin intermingles English and Spanish as her characters do, with many of the Spanish phrases translated in footnotes. The blend of languages agrees well with her controlling metaphor for the collection of stories: the patchwork quilt described in the first entry, “Tejidos y Bordados” (needlework and embroidery). Dona Gertrudis Pacheco’s quilt is a joyous kaleidoscope of her life, Martin writes, composed of more than six hundred swatches of fabrics in rich jewel tones, each section embroidered with different designs of birds, animals, flowers, household items, religious symbols, and family motifs. When the individual pieces are precisely and lovingly stitched together, they form a beautiful whole that represents the heart of the artist and the “spirit of la gente mexico americana”—the spirit of the Chicano people.

In “La Tortillera”(the tortilla maker), Martin speaks of her mother reigning in the Kingdom of the Kitchen, making salsa, sopa, tamales, and always fresh tortillas, for, as her mother is fond of saying, people who buy tortillas at the market might as well move to Los Angeles for they have already lost their souls. Here in one stroke Martin captures her heritage and life in a changing era.