Talking Location With author Katharine Swartz – WHITEHAVEN and the LAKE DISTRICT
Location(s): Chicago, Mexico City
Era(s): Modern/20th century
Every year the three Reyes sons and their families drive south from Chicago via Route 66 to the home of the Awful Grandmother and the Little Grandfather on Destiny Street in Mexico City. From the back seat of her father’s red Chevy station-wagon, our storyteller Lala loves to witness the crossover from endless Texas to flamboyant Mexico, the switch from truck stop donuts to street vendors with corn on the cob, the smell of hot tortillas and the sting of roasting chillies in the throat and eyes. The youngest of many cousins, Lala is also the most curious. Did the Little Grandfather really lose those very ribs in a terrible battle? And why is the Awful Grandmother’s special treasure, her caramelo silk shawl, the colour of burnt milk candy, still unfinished ? As Lala grows older she learns the colourful tales and ‘healthy lies’ behind the official family legends. Cisneros is a great story teller, a tantalizing conjurer of tastes and atmospheres – and the creator of characters who stomp and dance off the page into your heart.
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