Amor Eterno by Patricia Preciado Martin
Patricia Preciado Martin's collection of short stories is a light, earnest invitation. With a relaxed hand, Martin leads the reader through a careful exploration of desperate love, suffering, and penetrating disillusionment. Created as lyrical vignettes, Amor Eterno is a compact balance of voices that sing the praises of both contemporary and traditional notions of love, familia, and the cascades of an evolving Mexican American heritage.
We are served 11 stories of love. Some are written as letters, which are then cautiously flushed out to reveal a more streamlined story. Martin's grasp of infusing poetry and prose is particularly engaging; neither seems halting or forced. The stories that work best as those filled with rich, easy humor. Martin's sheer grasp of storytelling in the traditional sense is decidedly strong, if not somewhat moody:
What was the sorrow of his aged uncle and antepasados was the delight of the young boys and a source of high adventure and discovery: the surrounding high walls and enclosures, bullet-pocketed and eroding. The crumbling chapel with the fallen hand-hewn beams that still smelled of smoke when it rained. The empty alter niches now harboring lists of colored birds. The creaky, termite-ridden stairs to the empty bell-tower, which had been plucked of its cast-iron bell and gaped like a toothless mouth. The weed-strewn family cemetery where the tumbled tombstones with exotic names scattered like so many spilled dominoes and where ancestors silently claimed their final meager heritage.
The constant revolution of sound and character works deftly in some places, especially in Martin's pictorial descriptions of Doņa Eloisa; a devoted mother whose pilgrimages to la Mision de San Xavier in the hopes that her son returns from the Korean War unscathed, remain fluid and earnest. The depiction of such characters as Lola in "Forbidden Love," while colorful, may leave readers somewhat restless:
Our prima Lola! A California Home-Girl! A teenager! Knowledgeable. Daring. Streetwise. The keeper of the keys to the kingdom of romance: boys and cars, flirting and dating, drive-in movies, lovers' lanes, making-out and French kissing, and the sensual sandy beaches of the California beaches we could only fantasize about.
Martin has successfully molded color and language in Amor Eterno. Readers can embrace the steadfast structure of her writing style and all its subtle intricacies. The stories are palatable diversions; each one acting a steady bridge to the next, allowing us to breathe in 11 nurturing lessons of love.