Holding Woman and Other Stories of Acceptable Madness


El Nido, New Mexico, is a place of addled brains, self-sabotage, comfortable confusion, and small-town secrets. At first, the darkly comic misadventures of the village's residents appear to be amusing anecdotes of rural life, but we gradually understand we are witnessing the challenges we all must face: the struggle to find self-worth, the courage to hope, and the ability to accept life on its own terms. In El Nido, traditional values and gender roles prevail alongside an unwritten code of conduct, and idiosyncrasies reign supreme. Hilario Armenta dreams of being buried in a restored 1964 Impala that he won in a lottery; a daughter tries to avert disaster as her mother, a compulsive liar, creates one sticky situation after another; the town's only prostitute teaches others the value of human life; and having gone mad after losing her family in a horrific fire, Holding Woman becomes a mother to everyone around her. These are just a few of the unforgettable characters who emerge from “The Nest,” all of them searching for safety, sanity, and sanctuary in a confusing world.

What Critics and Readers are Saying About Holding Woman

"Kelley Jácquez's [writing] displays that elusive heart-lightening quality that divides art from craft." —Library Journal

"Through powerful storytelling, Kelley Jácquez compels you to return again and again to the source of dreams, the unremembered past, the wrong turn that brought you to the present." —Kathleen Alcalá, author of The Desert Remembers My Name: On Family and Writing

"I loved the women of Holding Woman!” —Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

"Exquisite stories of imperfect people. . . . Though life is often grim and the people flawed, a thread of loyalty and strength weaves its way through these memorable characters. Nowhere is the writing more luminous than in the title piece, Holding Woman. I am unable to read it without tears." —Hannah Grover, Farmington Daily Times

"I loved every story in this book—‘real life’ and sometimes very ‘hard life’ jump from every page with a great deal of love and friendship sprinkled over the whole thing." —Kathy Engel, OR

"[Holding Woman] is hitting pretty close to home; I grew up just down the river from there. . .  [Jácqez] is an outstanding writer, in my opinion." —Emma, CA

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Kelley Jácquez
Author Bio: 

Kelley Jácquez grew up in a small town in New Mexico. After earning a master's degree in English, she served as adjunct faculty at several California colleges, writing and publishing short stories at the same time. She was awarded a Harper/Collins Fellowship in 1995 and was a finalist at the Utah Writers-at-Work conference in 1997. She then turned to journalism, eventually becoming managing editor of the Business Journal newspaper in Fresno. Her short stories have appeared in multiple literary magazines and two anthologies (Walking the Twilight II: Women Writers of the Southwest [1996] and Fantasmas: Supernatural Stories [2001]). Although she has lived in many places and now resides in Oregon, Jácquez still considers New Mexico home.

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