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Memoir is Rosario Ferré’s account of her life both as a writer and as a member of a family at the center of the economic and political history of Puerto Rico during the American Century, one hundred years of territorial “non-incorporation” into the United States. The autobiography tells the story of Ferré’s transformation from the daughter of a privileged family into a celebrated novelist, poet, and essayist concerned with the welfare of Puerto Ricans, and with the difficulties of being a woman in Puerto Rican society. It is a snapshot of twentieth-century Puerto Rico through the lens of a writer profoundly aware of her social position. It is a picture taken from the perspective of a keen observer of the local history of the island, and of the history of the United States. Included are many photographs that connect Ferré’s life with the story of her writing career.
nationalist riots, and finally the ruin of the sugar industry forced them to come out. The slogan for the inhabitants of the house was aesthetic sensibility, which they practiced as if it were the family ethos. That kind of sensibility had nothing to do with art. It was a discipline never put into words but implicit in their customs. It was in harmony with my grandparents’ austerity. Even though the evening meals were carefully prepared, the serving bowls passed at the table were never filled to
designs by Dior or Givenchi that they bought in Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. But I was just a hick, a jíbara, and was very happy with my dresses of petals and puffs. We also went on short trips to the island of Caja de Muertos in the family yacht, El Patoño, where I had a wonderful time. But when I returned home sunburnt and plastered in Noxzema, with my hair wet and light after washing off a ton of sand, I felt a hole in my soul, an emptiness where I suffocated. The price I paid for
independence was the only solution to our problems. In the courses on Puerto Rican literature taught at the Hispanic Studies Department, we only read writers who cried for independence: José de Diego, Gautier Benítez, and Lloréns Torres. It was impossible not to fall in love with that ideal. But going from words to deeds was another matter, and when my cousin Olga Nolla and I came out in support of independence in an editorial in Zona 2, many people who bought it were furious. When Zona 8 came
courtesan from the 13th century. I wrote it almost in one sitting, on a yellow legal pad and pencil. I was never able to write poetry directly on a typewriter because the noise of the keys disturbs the bond between feeling and paper. Silence is necessary for poetry, and machines can choke the flow of ideas. From the very beginning, Fábulas de la garza desangrada was related to the book of feminist essays Sitio a Eros. In those essays I studied the lives of women who seemed admirable to me
basketball star Pachín Vicéns, even though Albizu Campos was from Ponce. When I helped Father’s campaign, it was not because I believed in statehood. It was because I wanted to help him win the election. Father’s rise to the governorship affected the family in many ways. On the night of Father’s victory, Mother was in Ponce, a prisoner of an oxygen tent used to treat her heart condition. Father called her immediately to give her the news. Even though she was not enthusiastic about his political