Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Their Dogs Came With Them by Helena Maria Viramontes
I am just back from grading AP Literature and Composition test essays in Louisville, Kentucky where the professional night speaker this year was Helena Maria Viramontes. She read from this novel and from Under the Feet of Jesus, as well as entertained the crowd of teachers and college professors with her stories about growing up one of nine children in Los Angeles. Their Dogs Came With Them follows several separate characters through the mid-1960's turmoil in L.A. The four female protagonists, Turtle, Ana, Ermila and Tranquilina, struggle with gang violence, family issues, Civil Rights, gender issues and mental illness in this sometimes violent, sometimes lyrical novel.