Micro-Review: Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas’s Don’t Come Back

Sarah Hoenicke

Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas’s series of essays, Don’t Come Back, is an exploration of belonging and of the ways memory and imagination interact to create history. Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas reminds readers that we can still write creation narratives, as she does in four of the essays. There are still stories untold, and original ways to tell them. Part legend, part graphically violent cultural history, part familial myth—here, magical realism meets the explicitness of Annie Dillard. In many of the essays, Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas takes information from interviews with family members and builds on it, imagining backgrounds for the interviewees, and connecting these individual stories to the larger events of history and cultural myth. Don’t Come Back is replete with fresh and powerful descriptions. For instance, Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas renders a homeless man this way: “Dirty rags on a dirtier frame, black sails on a burnt ship.” Her memories are of strangled crows, mutilated cows, and dogs strung up at school. Here, innocence is displaced by fear, but even more so by humor and wisdom, by Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas's wry playful sensibility.