January 26, 2017

Looking Back - Bless Me, Ultima

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
1972 TQS Publications
Finished on February 10, 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Stories filled with wonder and the haunting beauty of his culture have helped make Rudolfo Anaya the father of Chicano literature in English, and his tales fairly shimmer with the lyric richness of his prose. Acclaimed in both Spanish and English, Anaya is perhaps best loved for his classic bestseller ... Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will test the bonds that tie him to his people, and discover himself in the pagan past, in his father's wisdom, and in his mother's Catholicism. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world-and will nurture the birth of his soul.

My Original Notes (1997):

Another book assigned in my Plains Lit. Class. Very good! A story of a seven-year-old Chicano boy growing up in New Mexico around 1945. Very interesting look at the devotion of Catholicism blended with pagen mysticism. Suspenseful. Sad. Beautifully written. Lyrical. I'm ready to read more of Anaya's works, such as Tortuga and a collection of short stories. Beautiful descriptions of the llano and nature in New Mexico.

My Current Thoughts:

I remember how much I loved reading and studying this novel for my Great Plains Literature course at the university. It was my first exposure to magical realism and I was spellbound! Thumbing through my copy, I have to chuckle at all the notations and underlined passages. I was such an eager student, wanting to understand everything about this book--the symbolism, biblical imagery, and the legends and superstitions of Antonio's people. There are a lot of untranslated Spanish words and phrases, which required careful translation, but now that I have those noted in the margins, reading it a second time shouldn't be too difficult. This is definitely a book I will read again!


  1. Whenever someone asks me for a recommendation of Latino Lit I always bring this one up. It's such a great read.

    1. Iliana, it really is a great read. I hope to reread it in the coming years.

  2. I read this one five or so years ago. It wowed me so much I recommended it to my brother. He loved it, too.

    1. Deb, it's a wonderful gem of a book, isn't it? It's too bad more people don't know about it.


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