Perfil: Poemas y Cuentos /
Profile: Poems and Stories
By Armando García-Dávila
Book Review by Clare Gearhart
It’s the New Year! Start it with some delicious, satisfying and calorie free literary snacks from Armando García-Dávila, an author who has recently moved to Ajijic. Like a box of See’s chocolates, there is something in it for every palate. The author has read his works to such varied audiences as the hard cases at San Quentin to the most sophisticated audiences in Sonoma County with great acceptance and praise. Surely you can find yourself somewhere in this spectrum and join the ranks of his many admirers.
Before we get into the literary aspects of this work, it’s important to know that the book is published with the English text on the left hand page, mirrored by the Spanish on the right. What a boon for those who hope to improve their Spanish! By moving back and forth between the two versions, new connotations of familiar words become clear, and phrases which you have needed but not had accessible will fast become part of your conversations. You may even pick up a few epithets to use when emotion trumps your ability to express yourself. Spanish students, use this as the basis for your studies, and people will think you are fluent in no time.
A literary profile is meant to be an impressionistic rendering of the subject rather than a biographical or autobiographical study. García-Dávila using both short story and poetic formats successfully lets us know his authentic self, his passions, his opinions and his impish and quirky sense of humor. In the stories he recounts some of the adventures of growing up in the Catholic Church which, as he matured, failed to provide him with the kind of spiritual support he needed. He tells of his and his twin’s first confession and first communion.
These tales of coming to grips with religion were very funny to me in a painful sort of way. Having walked the same walk as a Canadian American in Ohio, it amazed me how similar if not congruent our experience was. It may be that those who have limited religious background will not be able to identify with the puzzlement of a child faced with the dissonant truths of the Catholic faith, yet the story pointed to the universality of experience that we all have despite our various social and cultural backgrounds.
Being neither a poet nor a poetry critic allows me to speak to his poems with disarming freedom. These are not poems as you might think of them, words and ideas molded into specific stylized forms, tormented at times by the requirements of pentameter and rhyme. These works are prose-like vignettes which use the highly distilled language and the special intensity of thoughts and feelings that are characteristic of poetic expression. Some are fun, some tragic.
His lusty and fractious relationship with his creative muse is just amazing. Perhaps the accessibility and immediacy of these poems comes from their lack of adherence to traditional forms. In any case, if you are not prone to reading poetry you may want to set aside your trepidation and start here.
Please do not judge this book by its cover. To look at it one might well imagine a ponderous, dour and weighty tome. Yet it is so filled with a panoply and richness of emotions, events and ideas that the contents truly belie the seriousness of the cover!
This book is available on Amazon and at the author’s website: www.armandogarciadavila.com. Get it, it will be a wonderful addition to you library and your life!