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The Man Who Could Move Clouds
The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir | Ingrid Rojas Contreras
12 posts | 11 read | 22 to read
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 mothers 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 Nonos 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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review
sakeriver
Pickpick

There‘s so much in this book that I want to quote. Maybe the reason is that I, too, am someone who thinks about the relationship between self and story. Maybe I‘m looking for a new way to understand the world and the self and the boundary between them, or lack thereof. “Everything survives,” Rojas Contreras writes, and it‘s both a comfort and a warning. I‘m gonna be thinking about this one for a while.

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sakeriver
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Currey
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Pickpick

#readingtheamericas2023 #colombia This memoir recounts the author‘s traumatic childhood in Colombia. It captures a totally non western perspective on her family‘s interactions with ghosts, water spirits, and being able to foresee the future. Coming from a long line of healers, our magical realism is simply realism to this author. All people and places have their stories and this is a unique and powerful perspective on their ability to heal.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks So pretty 🧡 6mo
Librarybelle Pretty picture! 6mo
Suet624 Loved this book. I wish I could read it for the first time again. 2mo
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monalyisha
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Pickpick

This memoir, written by a woman who shares a history of amnesia with her mother (who is basically her twin), & a history of violence, racism, trauma, & magic with her family from Colombia (where she spent the first part of her life before being forced to flee), is everything the reviews say: “dazzling”, “passionate”, “kaleidoscopic”, & philosophical. It‘s also sadly lacking in warmth. It seems narcissism (a trauma response?) runs in her family.

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monalyisha
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“We have a word in Spanish for the walking of the dead — desandar. To un-walk.”

Billypar I loved this memoir, and what a perfect quote - I must have missed or forgotten it. 7mo
Suet624 @Billypar this book is so full of amazing lines it‘s easy to forget the last one as the best one comes along. 😊 2mo
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Chelsea.Poole
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Pickpick

Unlike any other memoir I‘ve read! Contreras writes about her supernaturally gifted family members in Columbia with a keen eye and deep admiration. Towards the end of the book, she wraps it up perfectly to describe the world she‘s coming from, (and I‘m paraphrasing): Contreras was told she writes fictional “magical realism” in writing programs. To her, however, she‘s writing actual accounts of the many strange happenings within her family.

Suet624 This is now a book that I get very excited when I see other people like it. It‘s soooo good. I read a library copy, but I think I‘m going to buy the book so I can give it to friends to read and I can dip in and out of it. 9mo
Suet624 @AmyG yeah, pretty close. Fresh Water still holds top spot but the hangover I have from this one is intense. 9mo
CatMS Your Hostas are beautiful 9mo
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Suet624
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Pickpick

I‘m not sure I have the words to describe the hangover I have from this book. In this memoir the author shares her family‘s lineage of healers & seers. Her grandfather, a healer of curses and remover of ghosts; she and her mother share an experience of amnesia that changes both of their lives, the trauma of living in a never ending war zone. The writing was hypnotic and moving. Sentences stopped me, giving me the time to feel into them. 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Suet624 Honestly, this is such a terrible review considering how enthralling and moving the book is. Thanks to @Billypar for bringing this to my attention. 9mo
BarbaraBB Fantastic review Sue 💕💕 9mo
Suet624 @BarbaraBB you‘re my cheerleader. 💕💕 9mo
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BarbaraBB Always! 9mo
squirrelbrain Sounds wonderful! Stacked. 9mo
Suet624 @squirrelbrain I hope you like it as much as I did. 9mo
Lindy This sounds fantastic! I enjoyed her novel and this sounds even better. 9mo
Billypar Great review! I'm glad you had the same reaction to it as I did: it's definitely on my short list of favorites this year. 9mo
Suet624 @Lindy I definitely have to find her novel. 9mo
Suet624 @Billypar Same. I may have to buy this one so I can start loaning it out to friends. It sure sneaks into your system and holds on tight. 9mo
66 likes6 stack adds10 comments
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Suet624
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Captain Adorable, my grandson, was walking home from school. I had just read this line, thought it was brilliant, asked him to sit a minute so we could talk about it: “I know that the meat of the body imagines itself to be air.” He just thought it was funny. I explained that in my world it feels as if the heart & mind are all this body is. The rest definitely feels like a tagalong, like air. Again, that smile. “You‘re goofy, G.” Off he went.

batsy He certainly lives up to his name 💕 9mo
Tamra Certainly adorable! 😊 9mo
Suet624 @batsy @tamra His smile can be elusive so between the sunshine and that smile my day was made. 😊💕 9mo
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ShyBookOwl That smile 💗 9mo
marleed What a great talking point with this adorable Captain of Grandsons! 9mo
Cinfhen Wow!!! Look at the captain!!! He‘s old!!!!! But still adorable 9mo
sarahbarnes 😍😍😍 9mo
Suet624 @Cinfhen certainly old in his opinion. And he has lots of opinions. 😊 Only 9 years old though. 😍 9mo
Suet624 @marleed I love talking to him about stuff like this. ❤️ 9mo
Cathythoughts He‘s lovely 🥰 9mo
Suet624 @Cathythoughts The Captain and I walk down the street often to a little village restaurant. Charlie, a man with dementia, is often there drinking coffee. The two of us sit with him and chat. The man keeps repeating, “you‘re so beautiful”, on a loop, every third minute or so, to the Captain as if they‘ve just met. My grandson is very sweet and simply says thank you every time. 9mo
LeahBergen He is just so sweet! 🥰 9mo
Cathythoughts What a lovely nature he has ❤️ 9mo
BarbaraBB Both anecdotes are lovely. So are the Captain and you 🥰 9mo
Suet624 @BarbaraBB that‘s so sweet. 💕💕 9mo
Lindy Lovely. Thanks for sharing this. 😊 9mo
Suet624 @Lindy 💕💕💕 9mo
bthegood He is adorable - that smile! 🙂 9mo
57 likes18 comments
review
Billypar
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Pickpick

The title refers to the author's grandfather who was a curandero, a type of healer in the Colombian mountainside town where he lived. This memoir details that family history and the incredible tales of her grandfather's and mother's apparent supernatural abilities and their connection to Colombian culture. Those stories seap into present-day and affect the author's life in surprising ways. I'm confident this one will stay with me for a long time.

monalyisha Oh, good! We‘re reading this in my IRL Book Club at some point this year. I suspect it‘ll be a summer read since it‘s fairly short. 9mo
BarbaraBB Great review. I want to read it too, loved 9mo
Billypar @monalyisha It's an excellent book club choice. Some memoirs are good, but there's also not a ton to dig into when you talk about it. You shouldn't have that problem here! 9mo
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Billypar @BarbaraBB That one is on my list now. I thought her writing was fantastic - you get drawn in immediately. 9mo
Suet624 Sounds intriguing. 9mo
youneverarrived Sounds good! Stacking 9mo
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gossamerchild
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Pickpick

Beautiful lyrical memoir. Highly recommended.

#12Booksof2022 @Andrew65

Andrew65 Looks a good choice. 14mo
Cinfhen This is definitely on my #HopefullySoon list 14mo
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Hooked_on_books
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Pickpick

This is an interesting memoir that in places doesn‘t seem to have much of a point, but comes together as a fascinating portrait of a family. Rojas Contreras comes from a long line of curanderos in Columbia, those who heal or help through magic. This is completely outside my own belief system, so it was interesting to delve into something so different. And the writing is terrific.

squirrelbrain Hi pupper! 👋 The book sounds great for readingtheamericas23. 1y
TheBookHippie Awe pretty puppy!!! 1y
Leftcoastzen So cute 🐶 1y
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Cinfhen Adding this for #ReadingAmericas23 1y
BarbaraBB Seems a worthy Colombia choice indeed. And I enjoyed 1y
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Bibliophile_22
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Mehso-so

I wanted to love this book coming from a Colombian American upbringing. At times I was mesmerized by her writing but other times the memoir felt slow and hard to believe. Yet, I am grateful Rojas shared her story and that of her family to the world.
“The person who escapes. The mind that forgets itself. The culture that is thought to be erased. The answer is everything. Everything survives”