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Canícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera

Norma Elía Cantú · University of New Mexico Press · 1995 · 132 pp

Biografía/ autobiografía/ autoficción · Etnografía

Canícula--the dog days--a particularly intense part of the summer when most cotton is harvested in South Texas. In Noma Cantú's fictionalized memoir of Laredo in the 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s, it also represents a time between childhood and an as yet unknown adulthood. Actual snapshots and the author's re-created memories allow readers to experience the pivotal events of this world--births, deaths, injuries, fiestas, rites of passage. La frontera was both a literal bridge to be crossed for shopping in Nuevo Laredo and visiting grandparents in Monterrey or Anahuac, cousins in Tamaulipas or Nuevo León and a figurative bridge spanning the area from San Antonio to Monterrey. Memories include Hopalong Cassidy on TV and Pedro Infante movies at the Cine Azteca, Cracker Jacks and jícama sprinkled with red chile, First Communion dresses and China Poblana costumes. Weddings, funerals, and holidays joined relatives and neighbors from both sides of the bridge. This unique contribution to Chicana literature vividly re-creates the bilingual, bicultural world of the Texas -Mexico border.

"La Profesora Norma Cantu delivers here a personalized ethnography that feels as familiar as my own family album, and as touching." —Ana Castillo

"Que viva la Norma Cantú for nudging la x in Texana literature to a j. La Canícula is a shoebox of snapshots tied with shoestring, a working class photo album of portraits gathered from the grainy texture of memory to the sharp focus of the imagination. What a joy to recognize these familiar faces; they are familiar! Intimate as a poem, and as large as the Texas sky, these stories are at once diminutive and grand." —Sandra Cisneros