Knitting the Fog by Claudia D. Hernández

knitting the fog cover with misty path image, book on tile floor all in black and white

a nutshell: blending narrative personal essays and bilingual poetry, Hernández shares her matriarchal upbringing and her childhood journey from Guatemala to Los Angeles

a line: “Tía Soila has always been a breathing poem who knows how to climb the tallest tamarindo trees”

an image: the scene in which Hernández, her sisters & her mother are to cross the Río Bravo to make the leap from Mexico to the US is one of the most intensely memorable in the book, particularly the moment where one of the sisters worries aloud about their inability to swim and Hernández (“trying to be brave and hopeful”) reassures her that she’ll rescue her

a thought: her mother’s physical violence towards others and corporal punishments on the girls for any misbehaviour made for discomfiting reading; Hernández’s explanation of what her mother had endured earlier in life was telling, but not excusing, nevertheless the writer expresses gratitude in the Acknowledgements for her mother’s courage & sacrifices

a fact: languages & accents play a big role in Hernández’s story about coming of age, and I learned that Guatemala has more than twenty Mayan & distinct indigenous languages

want to read Knitting the Fog? visit here

Will and Testament by Vigdis Hjorth (tr. Charlotte Barslund)

will and testament cover with forest cabin, background blue sky and fairylights

a nutshell: this festering & frustrating book grapples with a woman’s history of family trauma, with her perpsective leaking out as an inheritance dispute reopens old wounds

a line: “My fear was irrational, it was the non-financial legacy of my upbringing. An irrational sense of guilt because I had opted out”

an image: quoting Tove Ditlevsen, a character describes the street of her childhood as the root of her being, anchoring her on a day when she was utterly lost, sprinkling melancholy into her mind on a rainy night, throwing her to the ground to harden her heart before raising her gently to wipe her tears

a thought: the narrator continually blends the personal & the political – particularly in the mirroring of her own family’s efforts at reconciliation and Western governments’ involvement in conflicts as both being hypocritical/delusional

a fact: the book sparked a real-life media furore based on the fact that Hjorth drew on her own family history (despite the subtitle ‘A Novel’) which in turn prompted a ‘rebuttal’ novel by her sister Helga Hjorth

want to read Will and Testament? visit here