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The Wedding Guitar, pt 10 (Coco) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
The Wedding Guitar, pt 10 (Coco)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

This had been a disaster, as she should have known it would be. It was time for them to put the past away for good.

She blasted through the workshop, ignoring a yowl from the stray cat she surprised out of sleep, and pushed into the living room. Coco was still behind her, straightening something that had fallen over.

Imelda went to the mantel and took down the picture of the family, of Héctor with his crooked smile. The guitar was already hidden. Imelda couldn't stand the sight of it. But it was time to get rid of the rest. This wasn't her family anymore.

She threw it to floor and the glass shattered. Her own face was obscured by spidery cracks. Coco seemed to be reaching out to touch them. Héctor was untouched by it.

She reached down and picked it up, and black fury rushed through her. She tore it, ripping his head from his shoulders, and let the curled bit fly off. She was reaching for the other side when Coco rushed in and ripped it from her hands, somehow managing not to tear it. "Mamá!" she screamed. "Mamá, why


don't we go to the cemetery?" Coco asked, stepping carefully over the marigolds. "Everyone is there!"

"We don't have anyone there, querida," Imelda said. "Our people are still alive."

"What does 'alive' mean?"

"It means that you're here. That you're breathing and talking and thinking and loving people."

"Is Papá alive? He's not here."

Imelda felt her throat tighten. It had been six months since the last letter. Almost a year since the last one that actually said anything. He had been gone for seventeen months now, and that wasn't counting the three months they'd spent arguing before Ernesto had finally won his allegiance. She'd tried everything she could think of. She'd even tried for another baby. The first had happened so naturally and accidentally, but this time, even though she suspected Héctor was trying as well (it would have taken the choice out of his hands), it had just not happened. In the end, he'd walked off into a rare gray morning, his guitar slung over his back, and Imelda had thrown something after him. She didn't remember what.

The thought had crossed her mind from time to time that… that something had happened… but… "Tío Nesto would have told us if something happened to Papá," she said. "He is simply… he left us."


"To play his little songs for people. I don't want to talk about this, Coco."

She nodded, but frowned as they came around the corner near the baker's stall. He was doing a brisk business in pan de muerto, of course. To be left on graves, or ofrendas.

"Marisol says that people who've left us come back on Día de los Muertos," Coco said tentatively.

"That would be a miracle, indeed. I would not count on it." They reached the booth, and Imelda picked out everyday bread, and a little cake for dessert. "Who is Marisol?"

"From school," Coco said proudly. "She is my friend. She's better at numbers than I am, but I'm better at words."

"Are you?"

Coco nodded. "I know all my letters, and I can rhyme words like Papá!" She paled. "I mean… I sometimes make rhymes."

Imelda sighed and paid the baker, who was looking at them with sympathy. She steered Coco further down the road. "There is no reason to be ashamed of where you got that from. You got what was good."

Her frown deepened. "Papá was good. I want Papá. I want my song."

"I'll sing it for you later."

"I want Papá to sing it for me." She stuck out her lower lip, then it trembled and she started to cry. "I want Papá! I want Papá, where is my papá…?"

It wasn't the first time anger had swept over Imelda since Héctor's disappearance, but it was the first time it was wound through with utterly black hatred. Coco had always been his child more than hers, even when she was still nursing. Mamá was a source of food. Papá was the center her world. And he had left her. Imelda could handle the idea that she herself had been abandoned -- she didn't like it, but she supposed Héctor had no responsibility to her, and she had made her own mistakes along the way. But the fact that he'd left Coco, the person he'd pretended to love most in the world…

The wave of hatred broke over her, and she let it drown her for a minute while she kissed and cuddled her grieving daughter. Like the waves of anger, it eventually receded. She took a deep breath. "Coco," she said, "we will be strong. We will keep our heads up."

Still sniffling, Coco said, "Marisol says, if you make an ofrenda for someone who left…"

"Ofrendas are for the dead, not the living," Imelda said.

"We could try."

Imelda wasn't sure what she believed about death or the afterlife. It had never mattered to her much, one way or the other. But the one thing she was certain of was that no one actually saw their returned loved ones, or was sung to by them. It would only invite more disappointment, even if…


No, she told herself. People do not just die and then disappear on concert tours. People were watching him. He was with his best friend, however much of a snake that friend was. Even a snake would have mentioned to someone that his friend was dead. Therefore, Héctor is alive, so even if the dead could visit, he would not. Because he is on a stage somewhere, being a clown and basking in applause, like he always loved best.

For a moment, she imagined Coco sitting up beside some makeshift ofrenda all night, waiting for her beloved Papá to magically appear for her, and crying herself to sleep when he didn't. The furious, helpless hate and anger broke over her again.

She shook her head. "No. No, Coco. We will not pretend anything other than the truth: Papá left us for his career. I'm sorry, and I wish he hadn't. But he did. We need to accept it."

Coco looked down at her feet and nodded, and Imelda cursed herself along with Héctor. What parents they had turned out to be! He'd decided to spend her childhood on the road and she was deliberately making deep scars here.

She put her free hand gently on Coco's face. "I'm sorry, querida. I'm so very sorry for everything."

Coco took both of her hands and put them on the sides of Imelda's face, leaning in reverently. It took Imelda a moment to recognize the gesture as the one she had always given to Héctor when he finished their song.

"I love you, Mamá," she said.

Imelda set down her bread and cake and put her arms around her daughter, picking her up and holding her tightly. "I love you, too, mijita. We'll be all right. You'll see. We'll be all right."

Coco nodded against her neck. Imelda let her go a little bit, and leaned back far enough to kiss her forehead.

"Shall we bring our bread home and have supper with Tío Oscar and Tío Felipe? Tío Oscar is making tlayudas."

Coco found a smile, although she was still sniffling, and nodded.

"Will you be a big girl and carry the bread?"

"Yes, Mamá." She bent down and picked up the bread.

Imelda steered her the rest of the way home.

Oscar was busy in the kitchen, making a grand mess as he always did. Felipe was in the little workshop, setting a nice block heel on a boot. Coco went over to him and watched carefully.

"Do you want to learn?" he asked. "Are you ready to be a shoemaker like your mamá?"

"She's a bit young," Imelda said, sitting down at her own station.

Coco sat down on the floor beside her, leaning comfortably against her skirts. "I'll learn," she said. "I'll make myself pretty shoes with flowers on them."

"Flowers!" Imelda repeated. "I could make you a pair with flowers, if you want."

"Can I make the flower part?"

"Leather is too hard for your hands." Imelda set down the awl she'd picked up. "Why don't we start you with cloth? Eh? It won't be fancy shoes, but maybe some slippers for the house. You can make the upper into anything you want, and I'll put a sole on it for you."


"Yes. It won't be easy. "But you're a clever girl, and you can do it."

"What do you say? Are you clever like mamá?" Felipe asked, then looked up. "What do you think Mamá Imelda? Little Mary Janes?"

"The strap will be too hard. Flats. Go on, mija. Go get your lasts."

This got a genuine smile. Imelda had made new lasts for Coco just last week, casting her feet in plaster, which always made her happy. (In fact, Imelda usually made two sets, so Coco could play with one.) She supposed she could use the size three standard at the moment -- she was developing quite the collection of sizes now, all in much better condition than the set that had been left behind with the house -- but it pleased her to make shoes for Coco that were specifically for her feet, with every quirk accounted for. Coco rushed out to her room to get her lasts.

"You know we'll end up making most of them," Felipe said.

"No. I'll guide her. It will amuse her."

"Do you have time to walk her through making shoes at five?"

"I'll do some of my own work after she's in bed. And she's six, Felipe. Remember, we had a party?"

"More like a funeral," he muttered.

Imelda ground her teeth, trying not to let the anger and hate back in. Coco's fifth birthday had occasioned a letter from Héctor. It had contained a side note apologizing and begging forgiveness, because Ernesto had extended the tour again, but it was contact nonetheless. He'd written her another little song, and Imelda had broken out her own guitar to play it and sing it for her, though she had privately been fuming that Ernesto couldn't even give Héctor three days to come home for his daughter's birthday.

Her sixth birthday, however, had been a different matter. She had waited every day for the mail to come and each time it failed to bring a letter, she had cried. Imelda and the twins had done their solid best to make a good birthday. Imelda had even tried to write a song herself, thinking maybe she could pass it off as Héctor's, but she hadn't been able to do it. It was much harder than it had looked from the outside. Coco had spent the actual day sitting at the window, as if she expected Héctor to come walking up the path like nothing had happened. Of course, he didn't. And even having every little girl in Santa Cecilia over to play with a piñata and eat real ice cream had done nothing to cheer her up.

Felipe stabbed his awl at the leather he was working. "I will kill Héctor myself if he ever does show his face," he said. "If I can do it before Oscar gets to it, anyway."

"I've earned the first blow," Imelda reminded him. "And I won't take it because Coco would not forgive me, let alone you and Oscar, so put it out of your head."

"Then what would you do?"

"I don't know. He'd be sleeping elsewhere, at any rate." She looked down at a freshly papered last and tried to decide what pattern to make next. "I doubt we'll ever know what we'd do. I think he's gone off to find… how did he put it? Who he's meant to be." She bit her lip. "Coco wanted to put him up on an ofrenda."


"Even if he were dead, it might be better for her to forget him. He left."


"Will you say something else?"

"What should I say? When have we ever put up an ofrenda? Who would we put on it? Our parents? Do you remember them?"


"No. And we are fine. We have you. So does Coco."

And who do I have? Imelda wondered, but didn't say. She had always been a substitute mother to the twins, now she was a true mother to Coco. The only person she had ever leaned on was Héctor. Now that he was gone, it was either stand up alone or fall.

It hadn't been easy to learn to stand. She had already decided never to fall back on leaning again.

Coco returned with her lasts, dancing them across the table in a quick little cha-cha. Imelda rolled her eyes, then pulled Coco up beside her on the workbench and started showing her how to make a pattern. Partway through the process, Coco became entirely distracted with the making of cloth flowers. It should have been the very last point of the exercise, but Oscar came in from the kitchen to find out what was going on, and got her going on the silly things, which delighted her to no end. As much as Imelda wanted to start teaching her daughter basic tricks of shoemaking, she preferred a delighted Coco to a merely distracted one, so she let it go on until Coco had made several little cloth marigolds.

"Will cloth ones make a trail, too?" she asked.

Imelda bit her tongue, then said, "They would if we had an ofrenda. At least as much as we can believe the real ones make a trail."

"You don't believe?"

"I don't know, mija."

She frowned, but there was no time for a conversation, because Oscar had finished supper, and they all went in to eat. Felipe brought out the week's newspaper, which had come in the mail, and read out the best stories. Coco loved stories where there were princesses, so Felipe found whatever he could from abroad. Imelda wanted to know about the economy (Felipe pretended to fall asleep while he was reading these). Felipe himself had to know about horse races. And Oscar always begged for the bizarre.

"Someday," Felipe said, "there will be nothing bizarre in the entire newspaper."

"They go out of their way for it. Go on. Find us something."

"Let's see… de la Huerta treaty, more taxes…"

"Depressing, not bizarre," Oscar said.

"The Great Tree of Tule is starting to show its age."

"At eight hundred, that's expected."

"There's that kidnapping of the land redistribution man…"

"Politics. Does anyone want politics?" No one did. Oscar waved his hand in a "go on" gesture. Felipe continued to scan. "Communist rallies… no. We live as primal savages according to Yankees."

"What?" Imelda asked.

"I only read it. From San Francisco."

"They don't like us so much they should stop using our language for their cities," Oscar said.

Felipe went on. "Typhoid, no, more taxes, no. Rebels. No. Ah, here. Mummies."

"Mummies?" Imelda repeated.

"Remember that train car they lost on the way to Juarez? No one knew where it came unattached? They found it. A year later. Someone was hitching a ride in it. The desert wasn't kind."

Imelda wrinkled her nose. "Save that for when Coco and I aren't here."

"All right, all right. Back to the tree?"

And so he went back and read the article about the eight hundred year old tree, and Coco worried that it would fall down soon, and later on, they sat around the fire and talked about their childhood (omitting Héctor as much as possible), which was more or less their only tradition around Día de los Muertos. Imelda told the story she remembered of her nanny, and Coco asked what a nanny was ("Someone who is hired when a mother is too busy to take care of her children," Imelda explained, to Coco's horror). They speculated a bit about who their parents were, but the question didn't seem pressing anymore. Coco finally fell asleep on Oscar's lap, and Imelda put her to bed. The cloth marigolds fell out of one of her pockets. Imelda scooped them up without thinking about it.

Out the window, she could see Oscar and Felipe in the frames of the little cabins they were building. The plan was to eventually connect everything around, putting the well in an enclosed courtyard. The twins liked sleeping in the unfinished frames, under tents, for some reason. Men. They were always boys somewhere inside.

But you took Héctor's boyhood. You forced him out of it. Of course he left you to have fun in his way. Of course…

She silenced the nagging voice in her head, which had belonged to more than one person in Santa Cecilia over the last six years. With other girls, they assumed that the boy had been responsible for a ruination (though of course, "she should have known better" was a refrain). With Héctor? That had been Imelda's fault. The worst part was, she couldn't really argue. She'd always felt like she was the one doing the taking. She'd come across one of God's little miracles, and she'd taken and kept him for herself.

And of course, she had lost him.

No. He was with you of his own free will, and he left the same way. God and miracles and even you have nothing to with it.

She looked down at the cloth marigolds in her hand, and, on a whim, dropped them in a line toward the bed, toward the little nightstand where she kept the picture of her family. She could put up a candle. Maybe put out some of his songs. Maybe a few of her hair ribbons, which he'd so loved to unwind. She could play for him and sing, an offering. Coco wouldn't have to know if he didn't come.

She reached into the little drawer and pulled out a candle, lighting it from her oil lamp, and set it down in a holder beside the frame. Then she took Héctor's last charro suit out of the closet, holding it up to her nose and wishing for a scent that wasn't there. What else? His letters? One of the poems?

From the next room, she heard Coco begin to cry again.

Furiously, she blew out the candle and shoved it back into the drawer. There was an old trunk at the foot of the bed, and she opened it. She pulled all of Héctor's remaining clothes from the closet and threw them inside, finishing it off with the charro jacket.

Then, with a decisive move, she put the family portrait in there as well.

She slammed it shut and pushed it away.

Then she went to Coco's room to comfort her from whatever nightmare had woken her up.
19 comments or Leave a comment
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 1st, 2018 05:23 am (UTC) (Link)
"Mamá was a source of food. Papá was the center her world." I think you're missing an "of" there.

This is so good, and so painful -- especially at the end, with Imelda softening a little towards the idea of an ofrenda and then poor Coco inadvertently pulling her back into the land of the living. (Damn it, Hector came so close to being able to cross!) And of course Imelda can't imagine why Ernesto wouldn't tell her he was dead -- she may understand more about Ernesto than Hector did, but that doesn't mean she has any idea of what an utter sociopath he is. How could she? (Mind you, from a strategic standpoint it was pretty smart of Ernesto -- if he had told her the tragic tale of Hector's natural death, he would have had to give back his effects and of course some of the proceeds from the songs. As it was, making her do all the heavy lifting means that it's virtually impossible that she'd find out anything.) Does it cross Imelda's mind that she might have been sent a letter which was lost in the mail? It would have been a real possibility. (And hoping that a second baby would come along and take the choice out of his hands -- I understand the mentality but AAAH! Though wow, I wonder how Ernesto would have reacted to that?)

For some reason I doubt that the rest of the people in town see Imelda as bearing quite that much responsibility for "trapping" Hector -- that's Ernesto's early insinuations getting into her head. Everyone else probably just saw the early marriage and too early baby as "Pfft, what else would you expect from people like that?"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 1st, 2018 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Imelda is much more concerned about that than the rest of the town is. The problem is that she partly sees it that way herself. (Ceci believed it, but that was because, while she had once liked Imelda, she preferred Hector and cast Imelda as some sort of temptress. The rest of the town didn't care enough about either of them to speculate, most likely.)

Ernesto's ploy was actually pretty clever. Making his family hate him and believe that he'd sold all the rights and disappeared... that was smart, if sociopathic. For exactly the reasons you mention.

ETA: Ernesto's reaction to Riverito, the sequel, is probably best left to the imagination...

Edited at 2018-05-01 05:36 am (UTC)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 1st, 2018 06:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Ceci isn't above being a bit nasty about it too, but while saying that Coco "doesn't even look like Hector" is terrible, at least it's out in the open.

Ernesto's reaction to a second baby would probably be something along the lines of "How could that evil Imelda DO THIS TO ME?" I can't imagine the friendship surviving the news that an extended tour would have be put off for a few years and probably forever. Though who knows, since he has Sr. Esquivel and Miss Wittington around and anxious to get the show on the road, maybe they could suggest buying Hector out in some way and getting the rights to some of the songs in return. Ernesto wouldn't be thrilled but he certainly wouldn't mind having the stage to himself -- and OK, he has to keep sending money back but he doesn't need to be too loud about who the actual composer of the songs is while he's chatting up audience members later, does he? Maybe a few of the prettier girls will even feel bad when they hear his sad story of the friend who would have come with him and provided companionship if his evil wife hadn't forced him to stay home.

(Meanwhile Hector is still playing every evening, is learning to make shoes much faster than he would have thought, and feels weirdly relaxed most of the time even though that second baby is going to make finances extremely tight.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 2nd, 2018 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I like that. AU headcanon.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 2nd, 2018 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, I like it too :). I've seen lots of "Hector returns home alive" fics but I don't think I've seen one where he never leaves in the first place.

Do you have any plans for a post-movie fic? I'd love to see how your Imelda processes all of this in retrospect. And I REALLY want to see what she does to Ernesto.
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 1st, 2018 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's wonderful how Imelda's resentments, compartmentalizations, and little intrusive thoughts churn together to boil over in a toxic mess.
Better to compartmentalize it some more (and this time, put it out of sight).
I can also see her being a skeptic after everything.

Besides general racism at the time, I take it the savages commentary was due to lingering raw feelings in the wake of the Pancho Villa fiasco and following Punative Expedition?

-- FFR
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 2nd, 2018 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not actually sure... I was scouring an old newspaper archive for articles on Oaxaca from 1922, and came across that one. It seems to be related to the revolution, but mostly boiled down to, "Down in those southern Mexican states, they've been practically reduced to barbarity, with men wearing grass skirts that their wives weave!" I thought it needed commentary.

Her confusion and refusal to believe Hector is dead would make perfect sense if Ernesto weren't an evil SOB. Even if he didn't think to pass it on himself, someone would probably notice a death. Police would have processed it and told the wife. But obviously, Ernesto separated the body from its identification and made sure it wasn't found anywhere they were likely to make the connection with a missing mariachi. Add it to the carefully planted letters in utterly the wrong places, and...

Yeah, the confusion and resentment are pretty toxic.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: May 6th, 2018 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)


was the center her world Just need an of before her here.

"But you're a clever girl Don't think you need the opening quote here, since you didn't have any adverbs/description to break it from her first quoted sentence.

to the twins, now she was Think maybe you're missing an and before now?

have nothing to with it. Just missing a do before with.

So A. sorry I couldn't do a check on 9 before you posted to AO3; this week was just kinda bonkers around these parts! But I'm back now. And damn, you're killing me with the feels; the train car: you mentioned Hector's body and no one will know and arghhhhh!

This is doubly the case after reading nine: that awful spill of lies of Ernesto's, with the truth sprinkled in there just because he was a smug bastard and knew he could get away with it. I've often wondered just how the family navigated getting the relevant parties to back down so they could prove Hector's veracity as song-writer post film. It makes a tremendous kind of sense that yeah, it was Ernesto driving it, rather than the studios, and that so long as the family let them keep rites etc. etc., once sufficient proof could be obtained, they were happy enough to change the name/attribution. And of course, hand-writing analysis/archaeology's progression would help them to have far more of a leg to stand on than Imelda. (I will freely admit to adoring Sonetka's headcanon of Ernesto paying Hector for the songs--hell, knowing Nesto, so long as Hector provided him a steady supply and kept mum about his identity, he might have even continued paying him for new content.)

That headcanon is especially rich as we watch this family try so hard for domesticity. The twins, reading the paper, trying to laugh. Imelda, trying so hard to fill the void Coco's feeling. But they're all feeling such a void: Hector and his music were the heart of what let them function as this unit, and so much of the rest is just going through the motions. Still enjoying life, of course, but a little stilted, a little broken. Oh, the moment with Imelda, trying so hard to be both mother and father to Coco, trying to quash her rage and just cuddle her grieving daughter was wonderful. God I love your Imelda. And your Coco, granting Imelda that same gesture, as much imho because she understands that she needs it young as she is as because she needs a reminder of Hector herself, trying to show Imelda how valued she is. Always walking that line of loving both of them; God you capture the different but equally complicated essences of those two magnificent ladies so well.

And thank you for the origin story of Coco and shoes! Of course later Imelda had her working in the shop because everyone worked there, and her dictum against music was foolish. But I'm so tired of the fannish perception that Coco was almost like. an enslaved Cinderella after Hector left, forced to work her fingers to the bone with no joy. Thank you for making her shoe introduction fun, and for making the family try their best for a good birthday. Even down to Imelda, always so determined she can do anything she sets her mind to, trying to write a song! That line about how hard it actually was made me giggle. (Hector's fifth birthday present about broke me. So sweet, so essentially Hector, and yet so terribly sad; he just could not break away from Nesto. And oh, her sixth birthday was so! sad. Of course she would've been waiting for him.)

Also: he was so close to being able to cross; Fern, how could you! I mean, totally perfect way to ratchet up the suspense, but oh Hector, you were so close! And all of Imelda's musings, about how she'd finally let herself lean and she would never fall back because of how hard it was to stand again. So very plausible, so very beautifully written, and so very sad.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2018 06:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

Yeah, there's no sense, even with Miguel, that it's forced labor. They see shoemaking as a joy to be shared, and they're looking forward to teaching him for that reason. His dad, raised in the same family, is practically giddy about the opportunity. And Miguel himself doesn't see the shoe business as inherently oppressive. He sees it as something that keeps his family together. It's just not his personal dream. (And my head canon is that he made his own botines at the end.) Shoemaking wasn't drudgery to them. It was a replacement for Imelda's music -- a place to exercise that creativity that has to come out for them. Heck, I'd love to have had a family trade. Best I could do was my great-grandmother's kuchen recipe! :p Somehow "lab tech" doesn't quite pass down as well...

It's true that Imelda's ban (and Elena's enforcement) are a little harsh, but there is a great deal of love in that family to help make up for it. I really don't get the "he didn't get his own way so the people stopping him must be EVIL" mentality. This isn't the House of Black, or even the House of Dursley. It's a family that suffered a horrible crime and never recovered properly. That's the story of the movie... how that recovery finally happened. (I've seen a few people commenting that, "Yeah, it undercut the message of Miguel being willing to give up music when they let him do it anyway," and that's really, really bizarre. Miguel's flaw was his sense of being hard done-by, and he overcame it, and it was mirrored in Imelda's sense of utter rightness, which she also overcame. Both of the stiff necks bent a little, and that allowed the family to heal from the blow that Ernesto dealt them.

Sorry your week was so hectic. But I appreciate it on this one; I was about to start going through my somewhat less than vigorous routine on it. (I run it through a text reader to see if I hear anything missing.)

If I do another one in this 'verse, it's going to be Elena, Enrique, and Miguel trying to prove Hector's death and the malfeasance involved, leading to the studio's recognition, and hopefully, the discovery of Hector's actual bones to be interred somewhere. (Or his mummified remains, if anyone kept them.) I doubt the family would be wildly demanding money. The problem with the studio (or whoever owned the rights to the de la Cruz movies) would be that they'd worry about lost revenue when it came out that their romantic star was a murderer and a thief. I can see Miguel stepping up to defend the films, because they're the only place Hector's songs are recorded, and because he did learn to play from them. It could also be argued that, if they keep the monetary rights, the interest generated from the case could create lots of new business, maybe with artists wanting to cover them. Though I'm sure Miguel would be keeping a close eye on the artists' intent.

While it would have been good for Hector to cross, Imelda's right about one thing: It wouldn't have made a difference on this side, since he couldn't be seen to explain things. The only way it would have mitigated would be if it had allowed her to accept that he was gone and couldn't come back, and maybe to grieve properly instead of raging.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 6th, 2018 09:34 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

I don't know what Mexican copyright law is like but if it's at all like ours there's a good chance the movies are close to being in the public domain, if not already in it. The songs were all written before the end of 1921 and even by our ridiculous standards they'd be in the public domain since the creator died before the end of that year. And since it's going to be relatively easy to establish that Ernesto didn't write the songs, revelations about his character wouldn't sink them the way other revelations sank stuff like "The Cosby Show." If anything, people are going to be buying copies of those movies just so they can pick them apart frame by frame to see if there are any hints about his True Self in them, and of course there will be tons of papers and articles and new books along the theme of "Ernesto Exposed."

One thing I really liked about the story was that it *wasn't* all or nothing; I remember having a conversation with another woman at my kids' school who didn't like it and she said it was because in the end, the men were right and the women were wrong. Which was ... I didn't even know how to respond to that, because I don't know how you could come out of that thinking of Imelda and Elena as being that one-dimensional.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 6th, 2018 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

:blinks: What.

No, seriously, WHAT?

What movie was she watching? Someone needs to take off the Third Wave goggles and actually know what story is being told. Did she miss the fact that (a) not all of the women approved of the ban, including the one whose name was the title, (b) despite this one mistake, the women were loving and strong and kept the family together (c) by creating a successful business from scratch? Or that Miguel acknowledged all of those things? Or that Miguel's desire to just chuck it all for music, was explicitly declared to be wrong and selfish, and no one could move forward until he acknowledged that Imelda was right about things being more important? I mean, that wasn't even subtext. That was actual, obvious TEXT. It even made the trailer! ("Some things are more important than music!")

Are women not allowed to make any mistakes now?

And also, yes, it was a movie largely about boys and men and how to be a man, so it focused more on that journey than anything else, but boys learning to be men are not a threat to women! In fact, boys learning to be good men like Hector instead of bad ones like Ernesto can only be good for women, because, in case she missed it, we tend to, you know, share a species and a planet.

Grr, it's fine to not like a movie, but that reasoning pisses me off beyond reason.

Edited at 2018-05-06 06:32 pm (UTC)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 7th, 2018 04:52 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

It baffled me too -- I should explain, this wasn't exactly a leisurely conversation, but I was carrying some Coco-themed stuff and she noticed it and felt the need to vent, I guess. I didn't really have time to make much of a response beyond "But they all had to change, not just Imelda." I do remember that she didn't like that Elena and Imelda both shouted and hit things with their shoes, maybe she tuned out after that or something. Personally I thought it was great. I hate stories where the good characters act like PSA characters -- where's the growth? Imelda is a wonderful, talented woman whose flaws led her to make some pretty serious mistakes but she still pulled off the extremely difficult task of making a good life for herself, her daughter, and future generations. Hector is a wonderful, talented man who also had flaws and made a few pretty serious mistakes of his own which he never got the chance to fix.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 7th, 2018 05:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

There are movies and books I don't like. I can honestly say that I never saw someone reading, like, Fifty Shades of Gray and felt a desperate need to start venting about it (at least until invited to do so). What a super strange thing to do.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 7th, 2018 05:29 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

I'm thirty-nine and it's the first time it's ever happened to me. I will sometimes have people saying "I really liked that book!" but that's different. Oh well, some mothers do have 'em, as George MacDonald Fraser would say.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: May 6th, 2018 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

God yes everything you're saying re how shoemaking was a replacement for music and precisely how the family was victimized and just honestly doing their best. There's this frustrating trend to take narratives at the most superficial face value possible; so because Miguel is frustrated by his family's shoemaking joy getting in the way of his music in the beginning, it somehow must be oppressive drudgery. I feel like a large chunk of viewers are missing the beautiful and integral point you brought up a while back re Miguel initially modeling Ernesto and slowly learning to model Hector. It's a point I'm still baffled by the disregard of (look at the entire family's open fear when Miguel is gone, and not only their joy to be reunited, but his as well!) but it's most definitely there.

Y'know, I hadn't quite considered your point about no one being able to see Hector. Maybe it's because I got all my visuals through professional audio description and they described it wrong, but I got the distinct impression Miguel could see all of them in that end credit sequence. Though even if that is correct, that could as much be a side-effect of him having been in that half-way in-between state for so long. But now that you bring that up, Imelda's initial point would have been proven out in the end. We have no canonical proof that the living can even...hear the dead, or like. feel a spectral touch. So Coco would in the end have set up all night and waited, had Imelda made an altar for her. And Imelda herself: I wanna think doing the quiet ceremony might've given her closure, but it's equally likely to have entrenched her rage when, to her mind, nothing happened.

And OMG I will be so incredibly psyched if you write that fic--an exploration of how Miguel comes to terms with that deeply complicated legacy of these being the only real monument to Hector, a monument that was intensely powerful for him, but also being twisted by so much greed and cruelty fascinates me. And you have such a fundamentally spot-on understanding of the characters that I think you'd carry it off beautifully. (And I really like the idea of Miguel letting other artists cover the songs. He would, of course, wanna produce versions when he was older that were closer to Hector's original vision than the blustery mess Nesto made of them. But now that they're out in the world, why not take a Tolkienesque approach and let them expand and grow, the way all mythologized things do--and Hector's music would become even further mythologized post-reveal. As long as yeah, he kept an eye on artistic intent.)

Also, the fact that you use a text reader made me grin. I may or may not've mentioned, but I'm totally blind; so I use screen reading software. Which is in essence a more complex text-reader. That's how I catch so many of the typos. I love that in essence we're using the same process. And it is much easier to catch errors when you're listening. I remember a famous anecdote by the late Robert Jordan about how he'd listen to the audiobooks of his work (narrated superbly by a husband and wife duo, and when I say superbly, they managed to make up for quite a few Jordan flaws and keep me hooked into the series even as it dragged on. and on.). He'd always be caught between awe at the stellar performances and cringing, because he could hear every single clunky phrase he'd failed to catch in copy-edit.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 7th, 2018 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

I was watching a reactor to this movie, and I was fascinated as he went through, starting out with, "Aw, Miguel, you got the worst family ever!" to, "Guys... I knew I was wrong when I was saying that, but I felt like... well, the movie kind of tricks you and I almost fell for it! I know better! Of course family's more important!"

I had no idea you were blind. I think one of the things I learned using the text reader was how much I had been depending on my eyes to catch silly mistakes that they weren't really going to catch, because my brain sort of fills in that visual blank. The text reader doesn't have that problem, and my ears catch jarring omissions.

The visual does make a difference in the final scene. While everyone is present, only Dante and Pepita seem to see both living and dead. Miguel and Hector sing and play together, but while Hector is clearly looking at Miguel (he even takes the shadow guitar), Miguel's face is turned in a slightly different direction, and his interaction is only with the living family. He may well feel Hector's presence, but he doesn't seem to have direct communication. And in the earlier scenes, no one sees the skeletons around them, and he knows he's "back" after Imelda's initial blessing because he can no longer see the skeletons.

I don't think Hector had quite processed the idea that he wouldn't really be able to speak with Coco. Maybe the ability to go back is able to stir memories, which might have helped?

Edited at 2018-05-07 02:23 am (UTC)
sonetka From: sonetka Date: May 7th, 2018 04:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

I like to think that, being in the know, Miguel now notices Dante and Pepita occasionally purring at or winding themselves around what appears to be empty space and draws his own conclusions :). As for going back, if Imelda had set up that ofrenda and Hector had managed to go back in 1931, maybe that hard-to-define feeling of his presence would have prompted dreams? Not that he or any of the dead could dictate dreams line by line or anything but that having him close could sort of give her unconscious mind a kick-start -- she knows enough about Ernesto that a dream about him flat-out committing murder wouldn't be completely out of bounds.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 7th, 2018 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Catches/Squee

My head canon is that he basically waits for Dante and Pepita to show up so he knows that everyone is there, then he does a musical offering for them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 30th, 2018 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh. No.

Rereading The Wedding Guitar now that The Road Home is finished.

Oh no. The mummy. There he is. I didn't catch that or remember that at ALL. Wow. You really planted that one way ahead of time.

Poor Hector.

--Eleanor W.
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