Told from the Hips, by Andrea Amosson, has been translated from the original Spanish version titled Cuentos Encaderados. It is a collection of short stories that feature strong women and the strength they have within them to handle any challenging situation that comes their way. Each story is about a different woman, in a different circumstance. The women in these stories each have varying backgrounds, cultures, and histories. Their stories are empowering, relatable, and thought-provoking.
“Told from the Hips is a collection of stories of womanhood, sensuality, emotion, and difficult pasts that have been “collected” from these individual characters at various points in their lifetime and experiences… Andrea Amosson creates a collection of short stories that each work well on their own to create their own solid tone and feeling, yet that work together to create a theme of powerful, strong, unembarrassed women. Each story tells its own tale in a short time, creating both a full, stand-alone story, yet one that leaves readers yearning for more.” – 5 Stars from Red City Review
After thirty minutes of riding, my uncle, who always led the group, took a left turn. I noticed these were the hardest turns for me. Turning right was easier, but in the opposite direction, I usually leaned in so far that I was afraid of landing belly-down on the pavement. From behind my aunt yelled that the “Lope” was straight ahead.
I looked up with excitement. “The Lope, at last!”
We got off our bikes. We parked them next to an assortment of velocipedes, some with little baskets and flowers, others with stickers, and still others simple or elegant.
“Where is the ‘Lope’?” I asked, looking around and observing the parking area with multi-colored bikes next to an empty space where children were kicking a ball around; a little further on, a couple of homeowners with their pets and, at the center, something that appeared to be a sort of flea market.
“This is the Lope”! they answered in unison.
Once again I felt a fondness towards them; you could tell they were close, a couple of Chileans isolated in the middle of the Nordic cold. They had spent so many hours together they even coordinated their answers, without really intending to.
“This is it?” I said, with obvious surprise. “Yes. What do you think?” she answered, her eyes shining. “It’s pretty… ” I lied. “Let’s look around, you’ll like it,” he said. “Sure… let’s go… it’s pretty…” I lied again. So we started to cross the humble streets of the so-called “lope,” no longer capitalized. The vendor stalls sold
vintage watches, second-hand clothes, some portable radios, fake pearl necklaces, little tea cups, music. They adored this little outdoor fair with its charming wares.
I thought about the Persa Bío Bío marketplace, the enormous bagatelle fair in my capital city, about how I would get ready one weekend every month to peruse the ample aisles and be amazed at the products they had for sale. Suddenly I was struck by the immense distance that separated us. I could go to the Persa Bío Bío whenever I wanted, but what about them? They had been living in Europe for a long time. Many years would have to go by before they could visit the dusty Atacama Desert again, where he came from, or the fertile lands of Temuco, where she was born.
I understood that the “Lope” was not just a flea market. It was, in reality, a small journey back to their lost homeland. A connection to that slice of a republic beaten down by dictatorship.
As the years passed, the visit to the “Lope” had become sacred. Every Sunday they got on their bikes and pedaled hard to get to the only disorganized and chaotic place they could find in Copenhagen’s limpid symmetry. They would wander through the sparse rows of enchanting shops as if they were visiting the Louvre. Basically, it amounted to a way of conjuring up a sense of nostalgia in the midst of a flea market.
Once I realized this, I decided to wander through the “Lope” (capital letter and all), with the best attitude I could. I even tried to chat with some of the vendors. They obviously didn’t understand anything I said, but the Danish, in utter contrast to their environment, exude a special warmth in their embrace of foreigners. “Thank you!” I repeated as I paid three thousand crowns for a dysfunctional watch with an orange band.
The visit to the “Lope” came to an end. In a couple of hours, I had to board a train to Switzerland. And from Switzerland, a plane to Santiago.
“Did you like it?” they asked me in unison, as usual.
“Of course! It was lovely! Thank you so much!” I answered, with the enthusiasm of a girl of fifteen, but this time I really meant it.
We went back to their apartment by a different route. They wanted me to see the monuments, cross some bridges and glimpse some of the parks for one last time. The cool breeze of Frederiksholm Canal caressed my cheeks. The look in my eyes thanked them for this last round of stops at the traditional tourist attractions. And I appreciated even more the visit to the novelty store.
Back on their street, we chained the bicycles to the lamp post in front of the building. My uncle ran up and down to and from the apartment so fast that he didn’t give me time to prepare for saying good-bye. He had my suitcase, backpack and the new bag I had to purchase to hold all the presents they were sending to Chile. The bag was a universe of small multi-colored packets tied up with silk and satin bows. They hadn’t stopped wrapping packages for the entire length of my stay. Whenever we had dinner, our table-talk was surrounded by wrapping paper, ribbons and cards. They wouldn’t let me help and that had bothered me. This was before visiting the “Lope” and understanding their estrangement. The little packages were another remedy for the loneliness they felt.
We went to the train station, in a cab this time. It had started to rain. We ran with the luggage, me sweating, they with agility, but all of us somber.
My train was already at the platform, although it would not depart for another thirty minutes. “It’s better if you get on now,” he said, his eyes all red. “But there’s still time,” I answered. “No, Emilia, you’d better get on now,” she insisted.
“All right…” I said, astonished.
I thanked them for their hospitality, for the roast beef dinners, the walks through the immigrants’ quarter, the visits to palaces, gardens, castles, the coast. They listened to my words in silence. To cheer them up, I mentioned the gifts they were sending to Chile. And, especially, the visit to the “Lope.”
The parting was rather cold. Not what I was expecting. There were no hugs, barely a handshake.
I got on the train to look for my seat, next to the window. I placed the suitcase in the space under the seat and arranged the rest on my lap. Then I looked for them. Outside, people crowded together between the trains that came in and out of the station.
When I saw them, I waved. I know they saw me, but they didn’t respond.
Raindrops ran down the window and I couldn’t distinguish their faces. They started to walk away slowly. From my spot, I could see them going out the door; they didn’t turn around. They walked with their arms around each other, at a weary pace, as if dragging their bodies through the rain that now beat down furiously. I stared at them until my sight began to blur, blinked for an instant, and when I opened my eyes, they had already gone.
About the Author:
Andrea Maluenda de Amosson was born in Antofagasta, Chile. She studied journalism at the Catholic University in Antofagasta, and completed graduate studies in Hispano-American and Chilean Literature from University of Chile. She received a Creative Writing scholarship from University Complutense of Madrid, Spain, in 2005.
Andrea has lived in Dallas, Texas with her family since 2011, she is the mother of two little boys. She teaches a weekly creative writing class, the only one in Spanish language in the Dallas area, and she has founded a free, Spanish only, book club for the Hispanic population. The book club now has more than 30 members and celebrated it’s 2nd anniversary last October. She is also the founder of “La farmacia de la Ñ”, a literary group of Hispanic writers and poets of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, that offers free public literary events to the Hispanic population, in order to promote reading and writing; and to open space to share the Latin-American culture.
Andrea has won several awards and contests for her writing. Most notably, she won 1st place People’s Choice for her short story Maria Kawésqar in a literary contest organized by La Nota Latina magazine, the Hispanic Heritage Literature Organization, and the International association of Hispanic authors and poets in Miami, FL.
Told from the Hips was published by Nowadays Orange Productions in January 2015. It is the English translation of Cuentos Encaderados.
Readers can connect with Andrea on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.andreaamosson.com/
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Andrea Amosson, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.