Domecq, Brianda 1942–
Domecq, Brianda 1942–
PERSONAL: Born August 1, 1942, in New York, NY; immigrated to Mexico, 1951; children: one son, one daughter. Education: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, graduate, 1979.
ADDRESSES: Home—Madrid, Spain. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Texas Christian University Press, Texas Christian University, Box 298300, Fort Worth, TX 76129.
CAREER: Fiction writer and essayist. Revistas de Bellas Artes, editor, 1972–73.
MEMBER: Association of Mexican Writers, Mexican Association for Conservation of Nature (member of board; former president).
Once días—y algo más (novel), UV Editorial (Xalapa, Mexico), 1979, translation by Kay S. García published as Eleven Days, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1995.
Bestiario doméstico (stories; also see below), Fondo de Cultura Económica (Mexico City, Mexico), 1982.
Voces y rostros del Bravo (travel essay), photographs by Michael Calderwood, Jilguero (Mexico), 1987.
Acechando el unicornio: La virginidad en la literatura mexicana (collection), Fondo de Cultura Económica (Mexico City, Mexico), 1989.
La insólita historia de la Santa de Cabora (novel), Planeta (Mexico City, Mexico), 1990, translation by Kay S. García published as The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, Bilingual/Review Press (Tempe, AZ), 1998.
De cuerpo entero (autobiography), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico/Ediciones Corunda (Mexico City, Mexico), 1991.
Mujer que publica—mujer pública (essays), Editorial Diana (Mexico), 1994.
A través de los ojos de ella, two volumes, Ediciones Ariadne (Mexico), 1999.
Un día fui a caballo (stories; also see below), Instituto Seguridad y Servicios Sociales Trabajadores Estado (Mexico City, Mexico), 2000.
When I Was a Horse (includes short stories from Bestiario doméstico and Un día fui a caballo) translated by Kay S. García, Texas Christian University Press (Fort Worth, TX), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Excélsior.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist and author Brianda Domecq was born in New York City and moved to Mexico with her family as a child. Domecq comes from a mixed background; her Spanish father and American mother had diverse English, Irish, French, Moorish, German, and Jewish ancestries. In her writing she addresses both women's issues and broad human-philosophical questions from a sometimes surprisingly new, woman's point of view.
In Domecq's novel, Once días—y algo más, translated and published in English as Eleven Days, she draws on her own experiences when she was kidnapped and held for that time period. In Acechando el unicornio: La virginidad en la literatura mexicana Domecq explores the question of virginity by examining seventy-five texts from Mexican Literature that address the subject, giving the reader an overview of Mexican literature, culture, and social mores.
The essays in Mujer que publica—mujer pública, written over more than a decade, express Domecq's views on gender relations in Mexico and the lack of recognition for female Mexican writers. Charlene Merithew reviewed the volume for the Hope College Web site, noting that the essays "are ingeniously characterized by humor…. The author shows her acute ability to see the humor that lies within the serious situations that affect her and other women, as she gives those situations an unexpected twist of perspective."
Domecq's historical novel La insólita historia de la Santa de Cabora, published as The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, is an account of Teresa Urrea, born in Ocorini, Sinaloa, in 1873. The illegitimate, green-eyed daughter of a wealthy landowner and his Yaqui servant, the girl teaches herself to read and write, ride a horse, and play guitar, and when she finally approaches the father she has worshipped from a distance, he accepts her. After falling into a trance, Teresa wakes with miraculous healing powers and is named Saint Teresa of Cabora. Teresa, a pacifist and champion of the poor, is now exploited both for financial and political reasons. She is eventually exiled, with her father, to the United States for her supposed involvement in local uprisings. The first half of the book alternates narratives between a contemporary scholar who is researching Teresa's history and an omniscent narrator who tells Teresa's life. In the middle of the book, the scholar disappears, and the third-person narration takes over the rest of the text.
Melanie Cole, who reviewed the novel in Hispanic, wrote that "the surprise ending, which is not really a surprise because the book has been leading to this inevitable conclusion, reminds readers that our lives are forever intertwined with the past. The author leaves us with a wondrous metaphor: that history—and a little sainthood—live within all of us." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "an exemplary historical novel."
Domecq told CA: "Writing was a survival mechanism from the very beginning. Life was hard to live, but on paper things got worked out and I could at least begin to make some sense of them. I honestly believe that until recently, writing has kept me relatively sane and alive. It has also become my passion. I love to write; I honestly enjoy what I have written and look forward to producing more in the future.
"My passion influences my work. Things need to grip me (or perhaps gripe me) to get me going. After that, it is hard work.
"My writing process is blood, sweat and tears … well, most of the time. I basically write in the morning, although when I was a mother with small children, nighttime was my writing time. Since I am through with childraising, I can dedicate my mornings. I just sit down and write—I don't worry about form until it is time. Usually the most difficult part is finding the right structure and narrative voice, once that is discovered, the text writes itself. Then I correct, once, twice, three or four times, sometimes more. Then the text rests, sometimes for quite a while, and then I correct again. This is when I usually share it with someone else, a close friend or an editor, and get the necessary feedback for final corrections.
"The most suprising thing I've learned as a writer is that I can do it. I never really believed that I would be able to, but I just kept doing it and then I realized I was 'one of those.' I have never written commercial books, I have to go into writing with my whole heart and body or it doesn't work. Fortunately, life has given me the opportunity to do this.
"My favorite book is La insólita historia de la Santa de Cabora. It is a book that took me seventeen years to write, between research and actual writing. I was convinced that I would never be able to do it, but Teresita (the protagonist) inhabited my mind to such an extent that she didn't let me go ever and finally I wrote it. The book is actually not an historical novel in the real sense of this genre, it can be read on many levels and one of those levels makes Teresa very modern and facing the trials and conflicts of many modern women. Even while I was writing the book, there were entire scenes that the following morning I didn't remember writing, it was gut-writing, unconscious, coming directly from what I call 'The Sediment' which is that miasma of life experience that seems to give birth to creativity."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
De Beer, Gabriella, editor, Contemporary Mexican Women Writers: Five Voices, University of Texas Press (Austin, TX), 1997.
Domecq, Brianda, De cuerpo entero, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Ediciones Corunda (Mexico City, Mexico) 1991.
García, Kay S., Broken Bars: New Perspectives from Mexican Women Writers, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1994.
Bilingual Review, September-December, 1998, "Conversation with Brianda Domecq," p. 248.
Booklist, May 15, 1998, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, p. 46.
Hispanic, July-August, 1998, Melanie Cole, review of The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, p. 94.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1998, review of The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, p. 98.
Library Journal, June 15, 1998, Carolyn Ellis, review of The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, p. 105.
Literatura Mexicana, Volume 10, 1999, Deborah Shaw, review of La insólita historia de la Santa de Cabora, pp. 283-312.
Modern Language Review, October, 2001, Nuala Finnegan, "Reproducing the Monstrous Nation: A Note on Pregnancy and Motherhood in the Fiction of Rosario Castellanos, Brianda Domecq, and Angeles Mastretta," p. 1006.
Multicultural Review, March, 1999, review of The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, p. 58.
New York Review of Books, April 20, 1995, review of Eleven Days, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, April 27, 1998, review of The Astonishing Story of the Saint of Cabora, p. 46.
Hope College Web site, http://www.hope.edu/ (September 14, 2005), Charlene Merithew, "Brianda Domecq."