These three experimental fiction excerpts are from a short story collection I have written. Themes include the search for answers to life reflecting facets of the people I have known, as well as my imagination.
My journey in writing these stories is also that of an artist who wants to know more and to experience life more intensely.
One story, The Tainted City, is about a Mexican American man, Luis, and a Jewish American (Renoiresque) woman, Felicia. The story takes place in Los Angeles, California. Both Luis and Felicia experience cultural challenges and discrimination, although in different ways. Here is an excerpt from The Tainted City (1978-1979).
“One evening Felicia put on her black kaftan and her red sash. She took candles to the fantasy’s apartment and they drove to the synagogue. It is Tisha B’Av, the memory of the destruction of the second temple in ancient Palestine. A time of sack cloth and ashes.
The Rabbi reads a story. The ancient story of a marano, a secret Jew who had to hide his faith, convert to Catholicism or be killed during the Spanish Inquisition. People in the synagogue think Luis is a Spanish Jew.
After the service, Luis holds the rabbi’s hand. He apologizes to the rabbi, saying, ‘my very blood ancestors may have been the ones who forced your people to hide their faith. I am honored to be here tonight.’
What Felicia had rejected she saw anew through the fantasy.”
My second story is Janine the Samba Queen. This story is a work in progress. Here is a synopsis of my story notes (1985-1987).
Janine is a renoiresque (full-figured) Black American woman, a dance student and a childcare worker. She does not fit into conventional standards of beauty. Her life changes when she meets Gato, a white Brasilian samba teacher.
She becomes his samba dance partner and also begins to perform Middle Eastern dance professionally, after studying both dance forms with Gato. She transforms her appearance, sews elaborate dance costumes and wears elaborate wigs.
When Gato is invited to dance the samba, representing Brasil for a special United Nations parade, he asks Janine to accompany him to New York to be his dance partner. Janine wears a costume she has made, with red rhinestones from her neck down to her waist. “I’m not used to being treated like royalty yet I’m learning.” she says.
Some of the other students in the dance class are initially jealous that Gato prefers a fat woman as his dance partner and companion.
Janine inspires other women. She overcomes racism, fatophobia and lookism in her life. In her day job at the childcare center, she teaches dance to the pre-school children and makes costumes for them as well.
Although outside the mainstream, she never feels self-pity. Her parents are supportive of her and that also gives her strength and courage. She keeps her ties to her family and the Black community.
My third story is Daniel, about Daniel and a Renoiresque woman, Miriam. Here is an excerpt from Daniel written in 1985.
“Always, they were white women he danced with. Miriam watched them in silence. They did not see her.
Once she heard he was nearly engaged to a reporter for The New York Times, a Black woman.
‘It’s something new for Daniel–he didn’t date anyone but white women for a real long time.’ Philip commented.
‘Why?’ Miriam asked.
“Some Black men only date white women. Black women threaten them, or so they think,” he said. But that’s not the way I feel.”
(Years later they meet again)
Daniel no longer had dreadlocks. He wore his hair in a short Afro style. He had a short beard, a mustache, a slight beer belly and the aura of affluence seemed to seep through his very being.
Something about that affluent feeling, that sense of affluence being the goal, the ultimate purpose of life, led Miriam to sense that something else was lacking, a sense of the spiritual reality that she now knew and loved which was missing in Daniel.”
Read more about these writings: Reflections for My Stories