Watercolor Women, Opaque Men
A Novel in VerseBook - 2005
Watercolor Women / Opaque Men is a wild and raucous narrative of a single, working mother, the daughter of Chicano migrant workers, and her struggles for upward mobility. With a remarkable combination of tenderness, wicked humor, and biting satire, the main character, Ella--or "She"--moves toward establishing her sexual identity (she has affairs with both men and women) and finding her rightful place in the world while simultaneously raising her son to be independent and self-sufficient.
Reminiscent of the picaresque novel, Watercolor Women / Opaque Men contains episodes that range from the Mexican Revolution to modern-day Chicago and reflects a deep pride in Chicano culture and the hardships immigrants had to endure: "In my familia we don't / pretend. / We're not / Mixed blood. There are no buried / Spanish titles beneath /anyone's tombstone." Nor does Castillo tolerate the pretensions of others. Pomposity, arrogance, and narrow-mindedness are the targets of her satiric pen.
In a strong rhythmic and colloquial voice, Castillo explores these issues of love, sexual orientation, and cultural identity, taking to heart the words of Mama Grande: "You will always be your most reliable resource."