Flash Fiction & Fables Finale – New Mexico Folklore
And so it is that we’ve come to the last day of this fun and different sort of week on the blog.
What a ride it’s been!
My goal was to shake up my brain a little bit so I could get some fresh blog posts out of the ol’ noodle.
Well, it worked. I already have a list of about ten fresh topics that will start coming your way next week.
For today, I have what I consider to be the grand prize for coming along with me on this ride.
Today is the Fables part of the week.
After scouring both books and the internet, I’ve selected an item from a book called Cuentos de Cuanto Hay. The subtitle is “Tales from Spanish New Mexico.”
This story collection is published by University of New Mexico Press, and was edited and translated by Joe Hayes.
The stories were originally collected by J. Manuel Espinosa in the 1930’s. He traveled around Northern New Mexico collecting verbal tales from the Spanish speaking residents, then transcribed and published them. That first published book was called Spanish Folk Tales from New Mexico.
Joe Hayes found a copy of the book and had loved it through the years, so in 1998 he worked with Dr. Espinosa to clean up many of the stories, added in a few more, and republished the collection.
It is charming, odd, and packed full of deep rooted stories from the Hispanic culture.
Just like New Mexico itself, many of the stories are a bit quirky.
Even the title of the book reflects the beautiful slow moving, “Land of Mañana” charm. Joe Hayes translates the phrase Cuentos de Cuanto Hay as “tales of olden times.” Literally translated, it means “stories of whatever it is.”
Which seems sort of New Mexico to me. “Eh, tales of whatever!” with a dismissive wave of the hand.
The story I’ve selected, “Juan Pelotero” also brings a lot of that New Mexico mischievous sense of humor. There is a line in the story where two characters agree to meet at “such and such a place.” Details, feh, who needs ’em!
The name, Pelotero, is also symbolic. In today’s vernacular, a pelotero is a ball player, usually baseball, but pelotero can also refer to futbol. The first line of the story gives you the clue to the more archaic use of the word: “Juanito Pelotero was a gambler.” Pelotero back then meant a player, a rogue, a roustabout.
You’ll also find the story tends to move fast in some parts, skipping over details. At just a few pages long, it packs a lot of story in there.
Since these tales were originally an oral legacy passed down from family member to family member, I’m going to bring “Juan Pelotero” (and maybe others) back to the verbal tradition.
Today, I’ve made a recording of the story and it’s posted below for your listening pleasure. I suggest putting the story on in the background while you go about your work checking email or what have you.
As I converted the file to MP3 format, feel free to download the audio file and put it on your iTunes or iPod to listen later if you would like.
I recorded this using a podcast microphone and Garageband software.
Do not expect recording studio quality, please. The quality reflects my gear and my room. I’ve done my best to keep the sounds of The Feline and my iPhone out of the recording, but I live in a creaky house and it’s windy today. You get the idea.
If listening to a story isn’t your thing, but you’d still like to read it, I’ve posted a .pdf. Click here for that. (remember, this edition of the story is copyright the University of New Mexico Press, so don’t run off doing anything naughty with it, you hear?)
The story of “Juan Pelotero” was told to Dr. Espinosa by Bonifacio Mestas of Chamita, NM.
Run time is just over nine minutes. File is just over 4MB, so it may take a few moments to load. Player opens in a new window.
Karen Fayeth reading “Juan Pelotero”
1. Sorry about the high-pitched whine behind the audio. I think it’s from the internet router on my desk.
2. In case you are wondering what a sacristan is, click here. I had to look it up too.
3. Yes, I think the part about the talking spit is weird.
4. The dove sounds I’m making are read as written in the story. Cucurucú is how it’s written. I did my best….:)