This stunningly original collection of stories, published by City Lights Publishers, illuminates a spectrum of Latinx, Chicanx, and immigrant women’s voices. In confrontations with fraught matrilineal lines, absent or abusive fathers, and the effects of historical violence, these women and girls navigate a male-dominated world where they rely on a resilient mujer network to get them through sometimes supernatural obstacles.
In visceral, embodied prose, Fragoza’s imperfect characters are drawn with an authentic, sympathetic tenderness as they struggle against circumstances and conditions designed to defeat them. A young woman returns home from college, only to pick up exactly where she left off: a smart girl in a rundown town with no future. A mother reflects on the pain and pleasures of being inexorably consumed by her small daughter, whose penchant for ingesting grandma’s letters has extended to taking bites of her actual flesh. A brother and sister watch anxiously as their distraught mother takes an ax to their old furniture, and then to the backyard fence, until finally she attacks the family’s beloved lime tree. Victories are excavated from the rubble of personal hardship, and women’s wisdom is brutally forged from the violence of history that continues to unfold on both sides of the US-Mexico border.
“In Carribean Fragoza’s weirdly sweet short story collection Eat the Mouth that Feeds You, eyebrows are Sharpie-thin, children say I love you with axes, and dying is an adventure. Her Chicanx gothic tales root horror in the most terrifying of places, the family. The creepiest pockets of the Brown imagination are her playground. Eat the Mouth that Feeds You renders the feminine grotesque at its finest.”—Myriam Gurba, author of Mean
“Every story in this luminous collection creates its own lush, beautiful, and utterly singular universe. Carribean Fragoza reaches deep into the bodies and souls of her subjects, and writes about desire and fear like few other writers can. Eat the Mouth that Feeds You will establish Fragoza as an essential and important new voice in American fiction.”—Héctor Tobar, author of The Barbarian Nurseries
“The magic realism of Eat the Mouth that Feeds You is thoroughly worked into the fabric of the stories themselves, strung through the warp and weft of family, community, and what it means as a child, as a mother, as a woman, to both belong and not belong. These are powerful stories about making one’s way, and about the things that keep a grip on you no matter where you are, even if you’re dead.”—Brian Evenson, author of Song for the Unraveling of the World
“Fragoza’s prose, a switchblade of a magical glow, cauterizes as it cuts. In a setting of barren citrus trees, poison-filled balloons, and stuccos haunted by the menace of the past, Eat the Mouth That Feeds You reinvents the sunny noir.“—Salvador Plascencia, author of The People of Paper
“I felt this collection deep in my bones. Like the Chicanx women whose voices she centers, Carribean Fragoza’s writing doesn’t flinch. It is sharp and dream-like, tender-hearted and brutal, carved from the violence and resilience of generations past and present.”—Natalia Sylvester, author of Everyone Knows You Go Home
“Carribean Fragoza goes deep. This book makes central the lives of women, whether sourced locally or rooted in Mexico, whether alive or dead to the world, surrealistic or hyper realistic, in the flesh or as spirits centuries old. This is storytelling that astonishes, passing through industrialized lives of women like gamma rays or cosmic rays—and I was not only astonished, I was moved. Kafka said, ‘A book must be an axe for the frozen sea that is within us.’ Be careful how you heft this book—it’s sharp as obsidian, this axe.”—Sesshu Foster, author of Atomik Aztex
“This collection establishes Carribean Fragoza as a new American voice to be reckoned with—her invigoratingly imaginative stories are nothing short of brilliant.”— J. Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota