Nambe Year One
Out of print for many years since its publication in 1976, Romero’s luminous and mystical novel is once again available to a new generation of readers. The author, a former librarian, sculptor, and santero (an artisan who creates santos, statues of saints), weaves a magical tale of northern New Mexico that spans generations of his family and the people who inhabit Nambe.
Starting with the legends of Gypsies and Payasos (clowns) who wandered the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Romero spins a spider web of stories about the beautiful and perhaps metaphorical Gypsy who enchanted his father, grandfather, great-grandfather and, ultimately, himself. But to call this novel a love story would be simplistic. Romero’s prose reads more like poetry, and the work takes on the shape of a metaphysical self-exploration of faith, heritage, and humanity.
There are warm and finely drawn characters here, as in Romero’s mother, his grandfather and son, and a cast of others typical of New Mexico such as the secretive and suffering Penitentes and the clowns and magicians who entrance the villagers. Combining into one narrative the old ways and worldviews of the Hispanic, Anglo, and Native American cultures of the people of Nambe, Romero’s novel transcends all cultures. It is a wonderful read, enriching anyone seeking self-awareness.