Uncategorized | September 09, 2004

Just prior to the release of her widely-acclaimed novel, Caramelo, Sandra Cisneros discussed her work and herself in an interview with Gayle Elliott. The piece originally appeared in The Missouri Review 25:1 (2002). Cisneros, former recipient of a prestigious MacArthur grant, is the author of a number of books, including the novella The House on Mango Street, the short-story collection Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories and the poetry collections My Wicked Wicked Ways and Loose Woman.

An excerpt:

Cisneros: The only reason we write—well, the only reason why I write; maybe I shouldn’t generalize—is so that I can find out something about myself. Writers have this narcissistic obsession about how we got to be who we are. I have to understand my ancestors—my father, his mother and her mother—to understand who I am. It all leads back to the narcissistic pleasure of discovering yourself. In writing this book, I have to do a lot of deep meditation into stories I couldn’t possibly know, that I have to go back and invent. It’s like an archaeologist discovering little scraps of preserved fabric, and you have to re-create what they were wearing by looking in a microscope at little fibers. That’s how I feel, as if all I have is tatters, a name and very sketchy things about ancestors—sometimes not even a name, especially for the women; they’re so anonymous that a woman gets lost within a generation or two. In most cases, even if you knew them you don’t know their last names. Things get lost very quickly. And here I have these people with no stories to go on except what has survived a generation of hearsay.

To read the interview in its entirety, click here.