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Jose Builds a Woman [Paperback]

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Item description for Jose Builds a Woman by Jan Baross...

Mesmerizing! Stunning! Elegant! Captivating! Powerful! Lush! A winner! Magical realism that seduces the reader from beginning to end!

When Ooligan's acquisitions committee discussed this marvelous first novel by Portland photographer/painter/dramatist Baross, the superlatives and exclamations wouldn't stop. Word spread, and soon Ooligan's other student publishers were waiting in line to read this novel set in a fictional Mexican coastal village. Jose is the story of Tortugina, the narrator, whose happiness and hardship are tied to the sea and to the men in her life, from her demanding father and dead lover to her cruel, abusive husband and beautiful, sensitive son.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   336
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 1, 2006
Publisher   Ooligan Press
ISBN  1932010149  
ISBN13  9781932010145  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jan Baross

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! For nearly 30 years, Jan Baross has been a prominent force in Portland's artisistic and theater communities. She is a successful playwright, filmmaker, painter, and photographer.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary

Reviews - What do customers think about Jose Builds a Woman?

Phenomenal writing, fantastic story  May 28, 2007
Read in one sitting- absolutely rich and funny and heart breaking and vivid -- touches on all the tastes... just rich storytelling. The author isn't lazy - every turn of phrase is delectable. Has a personality of it's own. You can't help but be drawn into the world the author's created - life feels boring once you are finished.
Lovely, langourous, sensual, satisfying  Feb 1, 2007
Jan Baross' first novel is as lush as her painting (front cover!) Her characters are equal parts flesh, blood, and magic. Her writing is clean and evocative, and the book is a pure joy.
Better than Chocolate!  Jan 14, 2007
This book is unbelievably rich, slightly bitter, deeply sweet, and utterly satisfying! Jan Baross is a masterful storyteller who engages all the senses. She's cooked up a complex and delicious tale of love. You'll devour it, and want more!
Imagination unleashed!  Jan 14, 2007
Jan Baross is a very gifted story-teller. She demands that you (the reader) let go. REally let-go....and what a romp! The characters come alive. She captures, like few gringa writers, the nuances of Latin AMerica, like she was born there!I swear I believed. I believed every word. And what a world she opens to us. Wild and abandoned. Risque and deeply sentimental. I loved it.
Novel opens magical window on love  Nov 14, 2006
Jewish Review

Portland writer Jan Baross' first novel, "Jose Builds a Woman," which was announced here at the time of its initial release earlier this year, is a timeless, lusty paean to love in many forms and an uncommonly satisfying tale.
Working in the genre of magical realism, Baross tells the story of Tortugina, a young Mexican peasant, from the time of her adolescence to the somewhat premature end of her life on earth as the mother of Jose whose childhood and young adulthood has been plagued by Tortugina's shortcomings, failures and misfortune.
Such a synopsis hardly does justice to this wild, funny, wonderful and sometimes Felliniesque tale of love--a parent's love, children's love and the eternal love that unites lovers everywhere.
Each page is alive with compelling imagery that verges on the poetic, at once as rich and uncomplicated as a simple tapioca pudding, never contrived and always surprising, often even astonishing.
Baross's tightly structured plot moves rapidly and, like a well-crafted screenplay, turns on credible and genuinely surprising reversals at just the right moment each time.
Expertise and sophistication at this level in storytelling might be expected of a novelist with more titles under his or her belt. In a first novel, such deftness is remarkable. It keeps the story exciting and makes one hunger for the next novel from Baross, which, by the way, she says is in the works.
The story begins and ends in a tiny fishing village where the only creatures that are harvested from the sea are the octopus that thrive there.
The girl Torgtugina is in love with Gabito, a handsome young octopus diver. The love is mutual, but tragically fated--a love that never will be consummated in this world, or not entirely in this world.
Through the liberties afforded by magical realism, Tortugina becomes the wife of two men, one living, one a ghost. One husband evolves as a nemesis to Tortugina, but not an evil man, more the victim of a curse whose occasionally aberrant cruelty derives from circumstances not entirely in his control. The other husband hovers over Tortugina as a guardian angel of sorts, but with shortcomings of his own--occasional clumsiness, ineptness or want of courage.
All the trials and the tender disappointments and postponed fulfillment that unfold for Tortugina up to and including the story's heart-wrenching and sob-inducing conclusion can be viewed as an allegory about the fullness and universality of love.
Magical realist stories frequently paint with broad brushes in the same way that opera does. But the seeming simplicity implicit in the technique notwithstanding, we still weep for Madama Butterfly and Senora Tortugina--or what they stand for--because those bold strokes of story-telling go directly to our heart and address the central issues of the life of each of us.
Baross has crafted a story that synthesizes the different types of love we know, a parent for a child, a child for a parent, and that which unites lovers. She even acknowledges the love we have for our neighbors.
It is no stretch to find in Baross' novel the idea that the love that connects one man and one woman is shared in equal measure among all the fruit of that union, down through all time and across all generations.
One eternal love affair engenders circles of love, each of which engenders new eternal love affairs encompassing the man and the woman, the children, the grandparents into antiquity and all who are yet to come--countless intersecting circles of love.
The topic of Barros' novel is the immutable centrality of human love from our very beginning.
A sub-topic, which the author seems to relish in print, is the carnal-spiritual connection--what the metaphysicist John Donne described when he wrote,
On man, heaven's influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air,
So soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.
It is each person's intuitive understanding of the centrality of love and the transcendent nature of the couplings we make in love--all the shining beauty and dark sadness that seem irrevocably intertwined in love--on which Baross has opened a magical window through which we see the truth more poignantly, if only briefly, like a rare momentary glimpse of the face of God.
And that is why her story is good, why it makes us weep.

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