The House on Mango Street
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories
Books and writing define Sandra Cisneros's life. As a shy child she escaped into her reading. One biographer learned that the young Cisneros "viewed her life as a story in which she was the main character manipulated by a romantic narrator."
Cisneros wrote secretly at home, openly expressing her creativity only in high school. She later graduated from college and in the late 1970s enrolled in the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she found herself an outsider. "My classmates ... had been bred as fine hothouse flowers," she has said. "I was a yellow weed among the city's cracks." This realization about being different from others in her writing classes lead to Cisneros' finding her own literary voice: "I knew I was a Mexican woman. ... My race, my gender, my class! That's when I decided I would write about something my classmates couldn't write about."
What she wrote first was The House on Mango Street, a series of 44 related stories told by Esperanza Cordero, a young girl growing up in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago. The book, considered by some a novel and by others a collection of prose poems, has been read by students in classes ranging from Chicano studies to psychology. Since then, Cisneros has worked as a teacher and a poet-in-residence at schools. She remains "nobody's mother and