More Praise For The Hummingbird’s Daughter
The style that Urrea has adopted to tell Teresita’s — and Mexico’s — story partakes of this politics as well, being simultaneously dreamy, telegraphic and quietly lyrical. Like a vast mural, the book displays a huge cast of workers, whores, cowboys, rich men, bandits and saints while simultaneously making them seem to float on the page. Urrea’s sentences are simple, short and muscular; he mixes low humor with metaphysics, bodily functions with deep and mysterious stirrings of the soul. These 500 pages — though they could have been fewer — slip past effortlessly, with the amber glow of slides in a magic lantern, each one a tableau of the progress of earthy grace: Teresita crouched in the dirt praying over the souls of ants, Teresita having a vision of God’s messenger not as the fabled white dove but as an indigenous hummingbird, Teresita plucking lice from the hair of a battered Indian orphan in a ‘pus-shellacked jacket.’
D’Erasmo raises a good point. My only quibble with the novel is that it could have been perhaps 50 pages shorter. But that’s an easily forgiveable misstep, since Urrea writes so beautifully I found myself breathless at some of his sentences.