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The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir

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A TIME BEST BOOK OF THE SUMMER From the author of the "original, politically daring and passionately written" (Vogue) novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy. For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with A TIME BEST BOOK OF THE SUMMER From the author of the "original, politically daring and passionately written" (Vogue) novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy. For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her mother's fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called "the secrets" the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit "the secrets," Rojas Contreras' mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water. This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to "the secrets." In 2012, spurred by a shared dream among Mami and her sisters, and her own powerful urge to relearn her family history in the aftermath of her memory loss, Rojas Contreras joins her mother on a journey to Colombia to disinter Nono's remains. With Mami as her unpredictable, stubborn, and often hilarious guide, Rojas Contreras traces her lineage back to her Indigenous and Spanish roots, uncovering the violent and rigid colonial narrative that would eventually break her mestizo family into two camps: those who believe "the secrets" are a gift, and those who are convinced they are a curse. Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a healing art and an invitation to embrace the extraordinary.


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A TIME BEST BOOK OF THE SUMMER From the author of the "original, politically daring and passionately written" (Vogue) novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy. For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with A TIME BEST BOOK OF THE SUMMER From the author of the "original, politically daring and passionately written" (Vogue) novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, comes a dazzling, kaleidoscopic memoir reclaiming her family's otherworldly legacy. For Ingrid Rojas Contreras, magic runs in the family. Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her mother's fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called "the secrets" the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit "the secrets," Rojas Contreras' mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water. This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to "the secrets." In 2012, spurred by a shared dream among Mami and her sisters, and her own powerful urge to relearn her family history in the aftermath of her memory loss, Rojas Contreras joins her mother on a journey to Colombia to disinter Nono's remains. With Mami as her unpredictable, stubborn, and often hilarious guide, Rojas Contreras traces her lineage back to her Indigenous and Spanish roots, uncovering the violent and rigid colonial narrative that would eventually break her mestizo family into two camps: those who believe "the secrets" are a gift, and those who are convinced they are a curse. Interweaving family stories more enchanting than those in any novel, resurrected Colombian history, and her own deeply personal reckonings with the bounds of reality, Rojas Contreras writes her way through the incomprehensible and into her inheritance. The result is a luminous testament to the power of storytelling as a healing art and an invitation to embrace the extraordinary.

47 review for The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Hassinger

    A brilliant book about one family’s lineage as curandero/as. But it is so much more than that. In it’s slim 320 pages it holds a family history that, as Contreras writes, is like holding two mirrors up to each other. Mirrors and mirroring are a constant theme in the text as are hauntings and grief. Words truly do not do justice to what Contreras has created here. To read this book is to be haunted by it. The sharing of these stories is to imbibe the tales and to be able to call on these spirits A brilliant book about one family’s lineage as curandero/as. But it is so much more than that. In it’s slim 320 pages it holds a family history that, as Contreras writes, is like holding two mirrors up to each other. Mirrors and mirroring are a constant theme in the text as are hauntings and grief. Words truly do not do justice to what Contreras has created here. To read this book is to be haunted by it. The sharing of these stories is to imbibe the tales and to be able to call on these spirits to help inform one’s own understanding of the nature of grief, familial history, and colonial curses that are no less potent today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. requested this book because I enjoyed the author's Fruit of the Drunken Tree. This memoir details her family legacy--magic . "Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her mother’s fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called “the secrets”: the power to talk I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. requested this book because I enjoyed the author's Fruit of the Drunken Tree. This memoir details her family legacy--magic . "Raised amid the political violence of 1980s and '90s Colombia, in a house bustling with her mother’s fortune-telling clients, she was a hard child to surprise. Her maternal grandfather, Nono, was a renowned curandero, a community healer gifted with what the family called “the secrets”: the power to talk to the dead, tell the future, treat the sick, and move the clouds. And as the first woman to inherit “the secrets,” Rojas Contreras’ mother was just as powerful. Mami delighted in her ability to appear in two places at once, and she could cast out even the most persistent spirits with nothing more than a glass of water. This legacy had always felt like it belonged to her mother and grandfather, until, while living in the U.S. in her twenties, Rojas Contreras suffered a head injury that left her with amnesia. As she regained partial memory, her family was excited to tell her that this had happened before: Decades ago Mami had taken a fall that left her with amnesia, too. And when she recovered, she had gained access to “the secrets.”" And so it begins--the back of forth of Rojas Contreras' life and her [extended] family history. However, I dispute the words of R.O. Kwon that this is an "often hilarious book" and the blurb that says Mami is an "often hilarious guide." Yes, stubborn and unpredictable, but not much laughter in this tale. Instead, much grief, sorry, and haunting. And the horrors of COLONIALISM and political violence--guerrillas and drugs in Colombia. And the lowly position and abuse of women. The memoir takes place in Colombia [predominantly], Venezuela, and the United States. As the author's note states: "This is a memoir of the ghostly--amnesia, hallucination, the historical specter of the past--which celebrates cultural understanding of the truths that are, at heart, Colombian. At times enthralled, other times somewhat bored. I thought quite repetitive. BUT. Some of the writing/phrases I thought fabulous/interesting: "thieved the joy of others" "I fought the marshmallow of nothingness, but soon I was consumed by it." "The stupid things peop[e say are true. Ignorance is bliss." "leisured with a drink" "grandfather lived on my face." The details of the anorexia of Ingrid's sister, Ximena, enlightened me. And I learned something new--philtrum--look it up, I did. And, think about this: "U.S Americans flew the Confederate flag, then insisted racism didn't exist. The told me theirs was a country founded on ideals, then got upset when I brought up the genocide of Indigenous peoples or slavery, which were clear indications to me that the country was founded on something else." Surely it was extremely cathartic to write this tome. 3.5; not rounding up. Don't forget! Come back to your Review on the pub date, 12 Jul 2022, to post to these retailers.This site uses cookies. By continuing to use the site, you are agreeing to our cookie policy. You'll also find information ab

  3. 4 out of 5

    Thushara

    "a memoir about magic, family history, grief, loss, ghosts, and incredibly powerful women. And she grapples with all of these subjects and more through humor and honesty." "a memoir about magic, family history, grief, loss, ghosts, and incredibly powerful women. And she grapples with all of these subjects and more through humor and honesty."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    There is one line in this memoir that says something like ‘Jane Austen is realism in America & Gabriel Garcia Marques is magical realism. In Colombia, GGM is just realism.’ It’s better written than that - but really sticks with me now that I’ve finished reading. I loved this memoir - it’s unbelievable in the best way, I loved all the spirits and memories and photos and stories. I love how she talks about dealing with trauma and how it lingers. I had to keep reminding myself that this was non-fic There is one line in this memoir that says something like ‘Jane Austen is realism in America & Gabriel Garcia Marques is magical realism. In Colombia, GGM is just realism.’ It’s better written than that - but really sticks with me now that I’ve finished reading. I loved this memoir - it’s unbelievable in the best way, I loved all the spirits and memories and photos and stories. I love how she talks about dealing with trauma and how it lingers. I had to keep reminding myself that this was non-fiction - it’s such an amazing story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Angie Sanchez

    my favorite book of the year so far!!!!! i stopped using goodreads this year but came back on just to hype this up and tell y’all to put your preorders in

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

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