The River Beyond the World: A Novel
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Luisa Cantu is a girl from a Sierra Madre mountain village. After being impregnated in a fertility ritual of ancient ofigin, she leaves Mexico to work in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as a housemaid for Mrs. Eddie Hatch, a woman with a strong will and a narrow worldview. Their complex relationship-by turns mystical and pragmnatic, serious and comic-reveals the many ways human beings can wound one another, the nautre of love and sacrifice, and the possibility of forgiveness.
The River Beyond the World is a 1996 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
the first place. She told him what she had just that moment realized: that nothing was a sin if you did it for the right reason, and that the God who made the river and the rocks and trees would not make it so that only what the people did could be a sin. She talked on, noticing that he had begun to pace, stopping each time he passed the table to run his hand across the books. Finally, when she realized that he was no longer listening, she fell silent. He sat so heavily on the cot at the back of
honking and knew that Opaline’s guinea flock was surging toward the grove on its nightly insect rounds. “I found a helper for you.” “But we already have…” she began, but then remembered the night she’d shouted about Guadalupe. It seemed so long ago. “You found someone else?” “She has a little boy. He’s about two or three, I think. She’s been working at the camp since she got here. A few years ago I found her south of Reynosa, all alone and pregnant. She’s intelligent, a hard worker. I thought
shifted her belongings here and there, never tiring. Sometimes she stayed up half the night arranging things in her house because each new pattern looked more beautiful than the one before. The same outside. When don Tomás brought seeds and cuttings, she planted them in the soft, silty ground, where she found the many bits of shells which the patrón told her were the bones of ancient sea creatures. By moonlight she watered, loving the scent of the moist earth, its chalk-and-bone-and-vegetable
sank into Thomas’s chair. She stood over his shoulder. “What is it?” He swung his head back and forth, and the mournful, bull-like movement angered her. “What?” He handed her the file. “I can’t feature how a man who’d write so neat could put thirty thousand dollars in a Whitman’s Sampler box.” Eddie looked at the folder, opened it, but could make nothing of the words and figures. “You understand the company won’t pay if it’s … when there’s … if he did away with himself?” She nodded, handing
rubble that had been the mission of El Corazón Sagrado, where the carburetor coughed the last fumes of rationed gasoline that had seen the truck from the border. Up the tires, along the running boards, into the wheel wells, they blossom overnight with orange stars that make the gray hulk look like a carnival parade float. Those vines will grow around your feet, old women warn young girls, laughing as they wash clothes in the arroyo, if you stand too long with your mouths agape, dreaming about