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Making Callaloo in Detroit

Stories by Lolita Hernandez

Publication Year: 2014

The daughter of parents from Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent, Lolita Hernandez gained a unique perspective on growing up in Detroit. In Making Callaloo in Detroit she weaves her memories of food, language, music, and family into twelve stories of outsiders looking at a strange world, wondering how to fit in, and making it through in their own way. The linguistic rhythms and phrases of her childhood bring distinctive characters to life: mothers, sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors who crave sun and saltwater and would rather dance on a bare wood floor than give in to despair. In their kitchens, they make callaloo, bakes, buljol, sanchocho, and pelau—foods not usually associated with Detroit. Hernandez’s characters sing and dance, curse and love, and cook and eat. A niece races to make a favorite family dish correctly for an uncle in the hospital, three friends watch an unfamiliar and official-looking man in the neighborhood, lovers and daughters cope with sudden deaths of the men in their lives, a man who can no longer speak escapes his life in imagination, and families gather to celebrate the new year with joyful dancing against a backdrop of calypso music. Hernandez’s stories reflect the diversity of characters to be found at the intersection between cultures while also offering a window into a very particular and rich Caribbean culture that survives in the deepest recesses of Detroit. In addition to being a compelling and colorful read, Making Callaloo in Detroit explores questions of how we assimilate and retain identity, how families evolve as generations pass, how memory guides the present, and how the spirit world stays close to the living. All readers of fiction will enjoy this lush collection.

Published by: Wayne State University Press

Praise, Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

I grew up eating callaloo as if it was daily fare in the city of Detroit, along with schtew chicken, pelau, sanchocho, and listening to all the calypso Lords, as well as Latin jazz master Tito Puente. How does that happen? Imagine dancing on the Bob-Lo boat to someone among...

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Making Buljol

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pp. 17-30

The morning was gloomy, fuh so. By gloomy I mean a feeling yuh can’t quite put yuh finger on, a creepy sadness, a sense that something isn’t right. Yuh wake up feeling heavy, as if some kind of presence is trying push yuh back to the mattress and yuh have to fight in order...

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Process Server

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pp. 31-48

Smack dab in the middle of the block sat the three old women, like queens reigning from sturdy outdoor rattan thrones. They were not quite at the grizzled stage, meaning too arthritic to move about much, but each had a few hairs jutting from her chin and plenty of mouth to...

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Five Workers Report on How the Deal Really Went Down

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pp. 49-72

Wow wee—for seven in the morning, the lights were bright like an RKO studio filming It’s a Wonderful Life as people began milling around the entrance to the Building D auditorium. We came from all over the site, assembly and metal fabrication, grounds and housekeeping...

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No Puedo Bailar

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pp. 73-86

When Los Reyes hit the first chord of their signature bolero rítmico, “La Pared,” Orquidia jumped to her feet from the rickety folding chair in the basement apartment of an old building on the main drag of southwest Detroit. It was her favorite tune on the CD because it could...

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Making Bakes

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pp. 87-100

Whole night long I ent sleep from the blasted summer heat. My room was in the front, and I was afraid tief would climb in if I opened the window; plus the little fan was only blowing hot air. Then too I was busy all night making bakes with Mummy. She came to me in a dream...

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Sometimes You Leap; Sometimes You Fall

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pp. 101-110

From where she stood at the smoke-yellowed window of the interrogation room on the thirteenth floor of the downtown police precinct, the gull looked like a big dry leaf or crumpled paper bag swirling on the ground as if caught in an isolated air disturbance, a mini-tornado, ...

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Sadie and Marqway

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pp. 111-122

It was Sadie’s first time frying chicken the way her mama does. Grease was spattering all over the stove, on the wall, on the floor, and edges of the chicken were burning. But she had put eggs in the batter to coat the fowl, just like her mama, and tested the grease with droplets...

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Adios, Detroit

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pp. 123-130

What I want most is a plate full of red beans and rice and a good Bogey movie. Maybe Clark Gable. Maybe a movie with Bogey and Clarky. Wasn’t there one like that? How about a movie with Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy and Lauren Bacall? We could look...

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Making Callaloo

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pp. 131-140

Bush was everywhere in the house, beginning from a crack at the side door, and it was cold outside. I never saw anything like this. Bush was hanging from the ceiling, coming up from the cracks in the wooden floors, snaking round from behind the archway leading to the kitchen...

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Over the Belle Isle Boundary

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pp. 141-156

It was a hot-sun and breezeless day. Solar rays pressed relentlessly against the fourth-floor nursing home window facing East Grand Boulevard. The home really had no recourse from the sun in its treeless section of what was called convalescent row only a spit north of Belle...

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Ole Year’s Night

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pp. 157-172

Just past midnight and the adults were finished with praying on their knees and wishing each and all a blessed New Year. The children were wet with parental kisses and embraces and incomprehensible predictions about the future from aunts, uncles, and family friends...

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Love in the Dollar Store

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pp. 173-184

How he met that angel of a woman was pure fate come to save his life from heading south, meaning it was tanking, falling apart—nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Felipe was beyond loser, beyond a totally useless piece-of-shit idiot, beyond all redemption for that matter. He...


E-ISBN-13: 9780814339701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814339695

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Made in Michigan Writers Series