Publication Date: September 15, 2020
Death, Desire, and Other Destinations by Tara Isabel Zambrano might be your next favorite short story collection. This collection brilliantly written; the stories offer readers a sort of community with their exploration into love, loss, and desire.
One of the reasons why I love this collection so much is because Zambrano has a way of weaving her Indian heritage into the stories. For example, in "Wherever, Whenever," the main character explores the fact that she feels lost, that she can't develop a sense of self because of the disconnect to her heritage. "Tania and I are at the border, our citizenship is a string of digits in our passport, our ethnicity a questionnaire our parents wish we knew answers to. We can look on either side and not find a home." I think a lot of people could relate to this feeling of being lost, and I would definitely recommend this story to people who might be going through a similar situation.
Zambrano also explores other almost-universal experiences. In a few of her pieces, the main character goes through a miscarriage, and the stories are so raw and emotional that I had to take a break from reading for a bit. I think it says a lot about the author's skill when a reader feels that much after reading their story.
Zambrano also writes stories about how different people deal with grief. In "Up and Up," the reader is meant to ponder the steps to grieving the loss of a significant other, and should we really judge another person for grieving in a way that is different from our expectations? Similarly, in "Spaceman," a woman had just buried her husband a month prior, and has sex with another man. All the while, she feels guilty, but I think it helps her heal. I think the reader is supposed to question their own sense of what is right/wrong when dealing with such a difficult loss. Perhaps Zambrano is telling us to be open to grieving however we see fit.
Another reason why I love this collection is because of the beautiful descriptions found throughout. In "Hum," two lovers are in bed together and, "they sleep tangled up like necklaces in a jewelry box." The story, "Bikini Wax" opens with this quote, "Rosalina is Mexico pulled inside out." What does that mean? I had no idea, but I was tearing through the story to figure it out.
There were some stories in this collection that didn't resonate with me that much, which is why I gave this book a four-star rating instead of five stars. However, I think, if you do pick this book up, you're going to love it!