Confessions of A Berlitz-tape Chicana is a deceptively thin volume, but don't let the size mislead you. Demetria Martínez demonstrates both a depth of feeling and a fine mind at work. Why I mention this at all is that very often, women's writing is described as "heart-felt," ignoring the intellectual foundation at work. Confessions demonstrates how the two are meshed together to produce a must-read social commentary and memoir.
In Confessions, Martínez offers laser beam observations on a variety of topics: identity, female beauty, the fear of violence, the need for spirituality, with a clarity, directness, and a sense of groundedness that is compelling and intimate.
Early in the book, in an essay entitled, "Lines in the Sand," on the real meaning of never finding the right shade of makeup, Martínez deftly lays bare the insidious everyday way in which Latinas find themselves forced to look in a distorted mirror; how much the world needs us to embrace the beauty already there, to shift our energy away from the beauty trap in order to remake the world.
In "A Call To Arms," Martínez writes about the fantasy of owning a gun, of knowing and agreeing with all the anti-gun politics, but owning that deep and naked need to feel impervious in a world where women's physical safety is always in question.
Martinez speaks truth to power, and her essay, "Night," shows us the inner workings of her psyche and spirit, as she challenges the reader to take a long, raw look at the Iraqi invasion, and the cost of silence in the face of the war.
In "Birth Day," Martínez also is forthcoming about her manic depression, about its tolls on her life, but also its blessings. In a critique of the "romance" of mental illness, she writes that she takes her meds, choosing a place of more balance, instead of dis-ease. But she also has this to say: "...I realize that my calling — the human calling — is to embody the light in my life, especially when I cannot see it. And to to try to embody it in my writing as well."