Karstin Hale




Sandra Cisneros’ bilingual chapbook, Puro Amor, features original artwork and story by Cisneros and translation by Liliana Valenzuela. The narrative centers on a quirky married couple—Mister and Missus de la Rivera—who live in a distinct house, dubbed by the townspeople, “la casa azul.” Mister works as an artist and Missus remains consumed by domestic duties. Cisneros shows that though Missus cares deeply for her husband, she feels most gratified when tending to her eclectic array of adopted animals. For crowding the empty spaces in “la casa azul” are “six hairless dogs,” “a little fawn who tap-tapped her way throughout the house like a blind woman,” “nervous tarantulas,” “lethargic iguanas,” and “a passionate, possessive macaw,” all seeping their way into every aspect of Missus’ life.

Puro Amor explores perspective dually, giving readers both an intimate view of the protagonist’s daily life and the perspective of the townspeople looking in. The townspeople have distinct opinions and a strong perspective. They chime in with dubious comments, “what a lot of trouble and work,” in reference to the extremes that Missus undertakes in order to care for her animals and partner. The fluctuating perspective grants readers the simultaneous participation in the familiarity of the Missus’ chores, and the outside criticism of the townspeople—a juxtaposition that gives room for Cisneros to be both silly and reverent in her exploration of the inherent arduousness of partnership, and ultimately to show that animals do give the purest love.

Sarabande Books.

—Review by Karstin Hale