Rios de la Luz - It grabs you and pulls you into her universe, one that is both familiar and foreign, a place where Martians find love, bad guys get their ears cut off, and time travel agents save lost children
Rios de la Luz, The Pulse between Dimensions and the Desert, Broken River Books, 2015.
Ear to the Ground by Rios de la Luz
“Rios de la Luz’s writing blows minds and breaks hearts. A sort of new and bizarre Tomás Rivera, Rios is able to blend the familiar of the domestic with the all the wilderness of the universe. Her stories will grab you in places you didn’t know you had, take you by those places to where you’ve always wanted to go—though you never knew how to get there. Buy this book and enjoy that journey.” —Brian Allen Carr
“In The Pulse between Dimensions and the Desert, Rios de la Luz’s writing is electric and alive. It grabs you and pulls you into her universe, one that is both familiar and foreign, a place where Martians find love, bad guys get their ears cut off, and time travel agents save lost children. In this innovative, heartfelt debut, de la Luz takes her place as a young author that demands to be read and watched.” —Juliet Escoria
The Pulse Between Dimensions and the Desert (102 pages) , Rios de la Luz’s debut collection of stories, is a vivid and honest book. Each story is rich with culture in the interspersing of Spanish in the dialogue, the narratives, and even the foods. The cadence of the narratives is quick and unforgettable. The book jumps from incredible surreal stories to hard-hitting goose-bump inducing truths. The narratives don’t limit themselves to one point of view. First, third, and second person narratives are all given the chance to seduce the reader into a world where time machines are built, “you meet your soul mate in a planetarium on mars,” and the “viejita who lives on the corner en la casa azul” tells the future.
Although I enjoyed each of the stories, I gravitated more toward the small (flash fiction) stories. The economy of language in each piece is refreshing, honest, and stimulating with lines like “I want to talk about my brown skin,” and “My curls are geometric half-moons with a hint of coconut.”
The story order and the level of detachment between each narrative are of particular interest. This book is structured in a way where each story can be read on its own, yet even with my A.D.D. mind, I still found myself reading the entire book cover to cover; I put the pieces together to see how the characters were related. There was enough of a balance and disassociation between narratives to make me still doubt their interconnectivity.
The narrators range from young children to grown adults. There isn’t one precise age group being developed. There is innocence in each narrative, as well as a corruption of innocence that lingers behind each story. There are grudges, there is anger, there is love.
Each female protagonist, young or mature, is extremely badass. From narrators that slice open their own hand to preserve a lie to knife-wielding investigations, each turn of the page presents a character that emits protective and curious personalities. The narrators and characters of these stories are ruthless, raw, and intrepid. It’s a bit odd how cold and mature the children are, as if the children know more than even the adults in the stories understand.
The topics covered in these stories that are refreshing to read. From the “pads like diapers [that] stuck to the bridge of my panties because I was petrified of tampons getting stuck inside,” to the “bush” that “overcame the tightness of my skirt and created a puffy cloud over my pubic mound,” taboo female topics that are almost always talked around are being forced into the light.
The most important subjects this book fearlessly tackles are queer discrimination, sexual abuse, physical abuse, as well as microaggressions. These four ideas are laid out in a painful manner for the reader to either identify with or acknowledge as existing.
Microaggressions are well illustrated in this book, from the tiring question “Where are you from?… No, where are you really from?” to comments by other characters about skin color, the sounds of native languages, and sexual abuse related to race.
Identity weaves its way through each narrative. In one story, the narrator states, “under the influence of mescaline you, looked into a mirror and saw accuracy in the depiction of your being.” And in the story “Rosario,” another mirror scene takes place: “at the age of fifteen, I used to look at myself in the mirror in strangely padded bras. I pretended that my skin was lighter. My hair was lighter. My eyes were lighter.” This commentary on identity is heartbreaking, and depicted in such a striking, open fashion.
Rios de la Luz has created enchanting worlds in such a small amount of space. After the end of this book, I wanted more. I was addicted to the language, the bravery, the depth of the characters as well as the worlds I emerged into. If you want to become immersed in culture, strong characters, and poetic language, then by all means, occupy your hands with this book. - Sara Khayat
Rios de la Luz explores the “inner workings that were happening in her brain” while writing her first collection The Pulse Between Dimensions and the Desert, and Scott’s suggestion that her stories resemble the Martian gemstones depicted within each, being unique, energetic, fresh, multifaceted, and yet interconnected(0:03:30). Notions of magic realism, time travel (0:17:50), science fiction, Junot Diaz, Ray Bradbury, Lucius Shepard, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and her love of outer space and comic books (0:20:15), especially Los Bros Hernandez’s Love and Rockets, emerge, as well as working with her publisher Ladybox Books, a rising imprint of Broken River Books and being part of the dynamic small press community in Portland, Oregon (0:32:00). The discussion also explores diversity as a rising force in both authors and audience for spec-lit (0:48:00), including Rios’ identity as a “Latina-Chicana-Bruja” writer but “mostly just a strange brown girl,” as well as using Spanish to reset rhythm in her narratives, growing up in El Paso, discovering her favorite writer Sandra Cisneros and her passion for creating young characters like herself, including her excitement in seeing female, African and Guatemalan leads in Star Wars and a black Hispanic super-hero in Spider-Man Miles Morales (0:59:15). Another ever-present element in her writing is the guardian abuela, reflecting the importance of her grandmother and great grandmother to whom she says she “owes so much” (1:10:45). Also queer characters, the awkwardness of puberty (‘Church Bush’) (1:23:30), disappeared women, dead children (‘La Reina’), her complicated feelings about borders and a short reading of her hauntingly beautiful story ‘Marigolds’ (1:30:20). Finally, Rios talks about what’s next (1:35:45) for her including flash fiction, zines, two horror stories, a bizarro tale and a novel, as well as recommending poet Yesika Salgado aka Yesika Starr, fellow Ladybox Books author Meliza Bañales, aka Missy Fuego, and Vanessa Mártir. listen
The H Word: Sadako, Mitsuko, and Sleep Paralysis
Rios de la Luz, Itzá, Broken River, 2017.
I saw a light