Patricia Lucia’s debut memoir surprises with emotional depth, LGBTQ appeal and intimate encounters with people on the fringes of American culture and politics.
Patricia Lucia had been carting around a box of stories for almost twenty years when the lock downs happened. “Wildflowers and Present Tenses,” her imaginative debut anthology and memoir shines with the brightness of something forged in utter darkness, filled with raw emotion, cringey honesty and breath taking metaphors. More so, “Wildflowers” breaks memoir rules with an imagined crone narrator – Lucia’s future self – who reads each story by a fire to an audience of fairies. The book opens on spring equinox and the mythic crone invites us to sit with her and ponder our own stories, past and present.
The opening story, “Weighty Matters” explores body and femininity in Lucia’s early years and the discovery of “otherness.” The poignant and angsty “Like Water” and “She Was Always a Gentleman” draw razor sharp images of coming of age and coming out in a religious and working class town in decline. “Tasting the Ocean,” “Taina” and “(Her)” weave vivid and heartbreaking yarns of a woman “driving blind in the land of love with a tank full of self doubt.” In fact, the book is dedicated to the mysterious (Her), with whom Lucia experienced her deepest love in her briefest relationship. “Over the years since then,” Lucia says, “I have heard her voice like a mantra, urging me to live my best and most authentic life.”
“Torches” brings the reader into the world of a young political activist on a mission to help make history in a presidential race. Along the way she meets Betty Hill, the first documented alien abductee in the United States. Lucia recounts their memorable chat over a cup of tea in Hill’s living room. “Coffee with Cleo and Company,” paints an evocative portrait of her unusual friendship with a woman most popularly known as Miss Cleo. “Standing Memory” captures the morning of 9/11 when Lucia stood in front of her New York City classroom. “Mother’s Day” a story for which Lucia earned a New York Times Fellowship in Creative Writing, recalls the death of her troubled and abusive father whose death on Mother’s Day held particular and painful irony.
“Wildflowers and Present Tenses” is beautifully illustrated by Bridget Van Otteren and is the first in a series of three. “Wildflowers and Wooden Spoons,” a cookbook with stories from Lucia’s ten years as a cafe owner in South Florida, is due in November 2021. “Wildflowers and Present Tenses” is available at pattiluciawrites.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and most outlets. Lucia speaks at book clubs, public events and on her own Wildflowers Livestream. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.