Review: Painting Their Portraits in Winter by Myriam Gurba

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Painting Their Portraits in Winter by Myriam Gurba (Manic D Press, 2015)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

Myriam Gurba’s stories are short, but her titles are long – her collection’s full title, How Some Abuelitas Keep Their Chicana Granddaughters Still White Painting Their Portraits in Winter, gets its name from the first story in her collection, in which a Mexican grandmother tells her granddaughters terrifying fairy tales about cannibalistic tamale makers and German Shepherds from hell. This story, and all of the stories in Gurba’s collection, strike a sometimes jarring balance between the modern and the ancient, tradition and reality. The book is simultaneously an ode to an older generation and a reinvigoration of old tales through a modern voice, and the juxtaposition of those elements give the collection a self-reflective edge. Continue reading