Review: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango StreetThe House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The House on Mango Street is a quick read revolving around the author, Sandra Cisneros, life on Mango Street, after moving into her family’s first owned, little red, home. The book is certainly a coming-of-age work highlighting a few individual’s lives in heavily Latino populated neighborhoods of Chicago. In short poetic chapters, she narrates her family and neighbors lives, bringing to light some of the more dark experiences including those of manipulation, sexual abuse, and violence. She features predominantly the women of Mango Street in her chapters, patiently observing and reflecting each of these woman’s lives both inside and outside of their homes. She comments on the oppressive nature of Mango Street; how she yearns to get away, embarrassed by her own home’s dilapidated appearance and contrary aesthetics to what her family envisioned, pre-moving in. A message that is made apparent, but that I think is important, is to never forget nor abandon your roots. Return to them every now and then to be with the people who are not able to leave. It is a part of your life that you can’t whisp away and that you shouldn’t, for it made you who you are today.

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Vonnegut: A Literary Genius

I recently stumbled across an article by Emily Temple on Literary Hub discussing Kurt Vonnegut’s Greatest Writing Advice. Just by a short skim of the title, I had a feeling this article would be filled with quotes to inspire writers, readers, and of course, myself. I have been a Vonnegut fan since the first novel I read by him, Hocus Pocus. He’s an interesting individual, an intense critic, and a humouring satirist. His writing is direct evidence of his articulated thoughts. I honestly find him such an inspiration not just because of his presence as a writer but because he is so honest and open about his opinions and his novels and writings exemplify this.

In this article Temple covers a range of writing tips from Vonnegut but here are a select few that excited me in particular (and I hope which will excited other writers/books readers too!):

“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

“If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

“I don’t have the will to teach anymore. I only know the theory… It was stated by Paul Engle—the founder of the Writers Workshop at Iowa. He told me that, if the workshop ever got a building of its own, these words should be inscribed over the entrance: “Don’t take it all so seriously.”

Just these three quotes/statements send a whirl of thoughts through my mind and I hope that they do the same for my blog’s readers. I believe Vonnegut is an inspiration for living a good and simple life. One that takes into account the reality of what it is to be alive, to be a human, and to be living in the society that we do. Life will inevitably be hard at times and will kick you into the dirt. So do what you enjoy and be happy in this one life you get to live.

My favorite quote of all time and one that many individuals can relate to is Vonnegut’s line in Slaughterhouse-five “so it goes”. Another article I read recently, 15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone else has or ever will, summed up the meaning of this quote so perfectly that it is necessary to share it to our readers word-for-word:

13. “So it goes.”

Unlike many of these quotes, the repeated refrain from Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse-Five isn’t notable for its unique wording so much as for how much emotion—and dismissal of emotion—it packs into three simple, world-weary words that simultaneously accept and dismiss everything. There’s a reason this quote graced practically every elegy written for Vonnegut over the past two weeks (yes, including ours): It neatly encompasses a whole way of life. More crudely put: “Shit happens, and it’s awful, but it’s also okay. We deal with it because we have to.”