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The Man Who Could Move Clouds
The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir | Ingrid Rojas Contreras
7 posts | 7 read | 17 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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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 happening 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. 7d
Suet624 @AmyG yeah, pretty close. Fresh Water still holds top spot but the hangover I have from this one is intense. 7d
CatMS Your Hostas are beautiful 6d
104 likes5 stack adds4 comments
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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. 1w
BarbaraBB Fantastic review Sue 💕💕 1w
Suet624 @BarbaraBB you‘re my cheerleader. 💕💕 1w
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BarbaraBB Always! 1w
squirrelbrain Sounds wonderful! Stacked. 1w
Suet624 @squirrelbrain I hope you like it as much as I did. 1w
Lindy This sounds fantastic! I enjoyed her novel and this sounds even better. 1w
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. 1w
Suet624 @Lindy I definitely have to find her novel. 1w
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. 1w
64 likes6 stack adds10 comments
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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 💕 1w
Tamra Certainly adorable! 😊 1w
Suet624 @batsy @tamra His smile can be elusive so between the sunshine and that smile my day was made. 😊💕 1w
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ShyBookOwl That smile 💗 1w
marleed What a great talking point with this adorable Captain of Grandsons! 1w
Cinfhen Wow!!! Look at the captain!!! He‘s old!!!!! But still adorable 1w
sarahbarnes 😍😍😍 1w
Suet624 @Cinfhen certainly old in his opinion. And he has lots of opinions. 😊 Only 9 years old though. 😍 1w
Suet624 @marleed I love talking to him about stuff like this. ❤️ 1w
Cathythoughts He‘s lovely 🥰 1w
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. 1w
LeahBergen He is just so sweet! 🥰 1w
Cathythoughts What a lovely nature he has ❤️ 1w
BarbaraBB Both anecdotes are lovely. So are the Captain and you 🥰 1w
Suet624 @BarbaraBB that‘s so sweet. 💕💕 1w
Lindy Lovely. Thanks for sharing this. 😊 1w
Suet624 @Lindy 💕💕💕 1w
bthegood He is adorable - that smile! 🙂 7d
56 likes18 comments
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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. 2w
BarbaraBB Great review. I want to read it too, loved 2w
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! 2w
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Billypar @BarbaraBB That one is on my list now. I thought her writing was fantastic - you get drawn in immediately. 2w
Suet624 Sounds intriguing. 2w
youneverarrived Sounds good! Stacking 2w
41 likes3 stack adds6 comments
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Beautiful lyrical memoir. Highly recommended.

#12Booksof2022 @Andrew65

Andrew65 Looks a good choice. 5mo
Cinfhen This is definitely on my #HopefullySoon list 5mo
31 likes2 comments
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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. 6mo
TheBookHippie Awe pretty puppy!!! 6mo
Leftcoastzen So cute 🐶 6mo
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Cinfhen Adding this for #ReadingAmericas23 6mo
BarbaraBB Seems a worthy Colombia choice indeed. And I enjoyed 6mo
60 likes6 comments
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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”