Barrio girl shares insights about Europe in new book

By Elva K. Österreich

International / international artist Sonya Fe has set her feet in the world of writing. She grew up in a California barrio and moved to the new perspective of a trip to Europe, seeing the world through the eyes of a “barrio girl”.

“‘Barrio Girl Goes to Europe,’ is about my life growing up as a girl and how it brought me to Europe. I was a little suspicious that Europe was not their problem because we tried to see England, France, Italy and Spain for about three or four weeks,” he said.

He begins the book with stories from his childhood growing up in the William Mead Housing Projects, AKA ‘Dog Town,’ in East LA,

“I grew up in the construction industry and the people were very nice,” Fe said. I used to sit on my balcony and think ‘it’s so good.’

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Even as a young girl, Fe felt that she should write about her experiences.

He said: “I felt that I was lucky to be born and raised there. “We were poor but we didn’t know it until President Johnson told us so. We had toys, we had food, my mother worked as a bookkeeper, my father had odd jobs, we always took good care of our creatures.”

So recently she and her husband, Arturo Vasquez, had their trip to Europe. Fe faced cultural paradoxes.

“Every place we went to was nice and clean and tidy and then when we got to Italy it was paper on the floor,” he said. “It looked like a greyhound station in Los Angeles and I was like ‘oh I’m home!’ I liked Italy because it was free.”

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The book features Fe’s language and voice, you can hear her speaking as you read everything from learning about the price of a tetherball to how “happy” the French are.

She said that the book came when she couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night, and she was telling her husband about her life.

“He would start laughing and say ‘write that down,’ so I would get up in the middle of the night and write it for an hour at night.”

Fe says she has a language problem, even though she is English.

“I make up my own language, me and Bush and Archie Bunker,” he said. “You make things work for you.”

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Immersing herself in everything she does, Fe always sees the world through the eyes of an artist. He talks about his family – mother, father, sister – with almost brutal honesty. His birth stories are not for the very young. He describes his experiences in Europe in episodes, how he sees the past living in the present.

“When I arrived in Italy, I felt so good I felt like I saw Leonardo de Vinci walking there, Michelangelo too,” he said. “I loved this, it felt like home.”

Next week, The Doña Ana Arts Council will host a book signing and sale with Fe, 4-7 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at their warehouse, 250 W. Amador Ave., suite B. For more information on signing call 575 -523-6403.


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