Mandy’s Musings: Of stars, books and Aztecs

This is going to be a slight change of pace from the series of book reviews we have been expertly spurting out so far (yes go us!), which is mostly due to the fact that I haven’t finished any books in time for today… my bad…

I do however have something up my sleeve, or rather, something waiting for me on my untidy desk.

That thing is this brick of a novel by Gary Jennings, an epic tale entitled Aztec.

The first time I heard of this book was in my Mesoamerican Art History and Archaeology class which I adored. The indigenous cultures of Central America have always fascinated me, especially because of my heritage on my dad’s side, and finding out that a class about them was offered in my program practically made me leap for joy.

However, I was afraid I’d have to seek out this book with no luck once vacation started, but imagine my surprise when I found it lying in a bookshelf in my boyfriend’s childhood home? I’m not really one to believe in fate or destiny, but god be damned if this wasn’t meant to be. The stars were in position for me to find this book! (…I should clarify that I don’t mean I simply met my boyfriend to find this book, this is just one of the many perks of being with him :p)

Anyways, as the title suggests Gary Jenning’s Aztec is about the Aztec civilization (or rather the Mexica as they referred to themselves), but more precisely, about the life of Mixtli-Dark Cloud before, during and after the arrival of the Spanish. Born the son of peasants, Mixtli quickly rises within Aztec society, starting as a young scribe, then a warrior, a wealthy traveling merchant, and finally a lord in the impressive city of Tenochtitlan and Motecuzoma’s emissary to the newly arrived Cortes and his Conquistadors.

I’ve heard that this book had some issues but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually read the book. I also heard that this book wasn’t for the faint of heart, but having researched in countless books and sources about the sacrificial rituals of the Aztecs, I think I’ll be able to handle it (they were surprisingly graphic). Besides, faint isn’t even close to being my middle name.

Also, what is interesting is how the narrative is composed as a series of letters between Bishop Juan de Zumárraga and King Carlos I of Spain (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor) who requested a chronicle of the lives of the Aztecs as they once were. This is where Mixtli comes in, now an impoverished old man but deemed educated enough “for his race” to share his life story, with friars transcribing and hanging on to his every word. And what an old man this Mixtli seems to be! As Zumárraga writes at the beginning: “From the very first opening of his mouth, the Aztec evinces disrespect for out person, our cloth, and our office as our Reverend Majesty’s personally chosen missionary, which disrespect is an implicit insult to our sovereign himself.”

As if I wasn’t excited enough! I hope this book doesn’t disappoint!



Mandy’s Musings: Of balloons, summer and The Pants

In true Mandy style this entry is two days late, but as the saying goes: better late than never, right?

With my semester coming to a close, my brain has been battered, pummelled, and mercilessly stuffed with information from assigned scholarly articles and textbooks. All of which will ultimately be forgotten by the final period in my endless essay, or answer in my final exam.

In other words, my brain is worn out. Exhausted. It feels like a balloon that has been emptied of its air and fallen onto the hard, cold floor after flying all over the place in a frenzy because its purpose in life is to be an air-filled balloon but some idiot decided to release its air and reduce it to its original state as a distant cousin of a condom.

There’s something deep and metaphorical in there, but I can’t make the connection.

Anyways, anyone who ends the semester saying otherwise is full of shiitakes.

With that said, even though I’m mentally exhausted I’d still appreciate a good read, albeit something lighter than Roland Barthes’ theories on intertextuality and postmodernity.

Fortunately, I’ve found the perfect book to begin my vacation.

Ann Brashare’s newest installment in The Sisterhood series is entitled Sisterhood Everlasting. As a teenager I devoured these books and could not wait to read about the summer adventures of Carmen, Bee, Tibby and Lena and wish I could have a magical pair of jeans that fit perfectly while making wonderful things happen. It goes without saying that although I was completely taken by surprise at the ending of what I thought was the final installment of The Sisterhood; I also felt that it was a fitting end to a wonderful series. Things change, and people grow up. Like me, these four girls grew up and were now starting a new phase in their life. It was a bittersweet end, but I knew I could revisit these characters by picking up one of the books, dusting it off and sitting comfortably on my couch and relive their adventures and the memories that they bring back of my own teenaged summers spent under the sun.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Sisterhood Everlasting the newest addition to the Sisterhood series! I’m not sure what to expect from this newest installment, but with ten years separating the events of the last book from this one there are bound to be major changes with the four girls, or should I say women, that I grew to know. However, I can’t wait to start reading this book and hopefully enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the others. Here’s to the Pants!

Remember: Pants=Love. Love your pals. Love yourself.