Barrio girl shares insights about Europe in new book

Elva K. By Osterich

Local/international artist Sonya Fay has made her foray into the world of writing. She takes her childhood growing up in a California barrio and takes it to a whole new perspective on 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 young girl and how it brought me to Europe. It wasn’t their fault that I was a bit negative about Europe, it was ours because in about three or four weeks we went to England, France, Italy and Tried to see Spain,” she said.

She begins the book with stories from her childhood and growing up in the William Mead Housing Projects, aka ‘Dog Town’ in East LA.

“I grew up in a housing project and the people were very colorful,” Fay said. “I’ll be sitting on my balcony thinking ‘this is great’.”

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

“I feel very lucky to have been born and raised there,” she said. “We were suffering from poverty 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 care of the welfare of our animals. “

Then she and her husband Arturo Vasquez recently toured Europe. Fe suffered a bit of culture shock.

“Everywhere we went was nice and clean and tidy then when we went to Italy it was paper on the floor,” she said. “It looked like Greyhound Station in Los Angeles, I was like, ‘Oh I’m home!’ I like Italy because it’s relaxed.”

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The book is full of Fe’s own dialect and voice, you can hear her talking about everything from learning what a tetherball pole really is to how “spirited” the French are.

She said the book came when she couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night and would tell her husband about her life.

“He started laughing and he’d say ‘you write it down’, so in the middle of the night I’d get up and write it down, an hour a night.”

Fe claims that even English has a language problem.

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

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Immersing herself in everything she does, Fay always sees the world through an artist’s eye. She talks about her family – mother, father, sister – in an almost brutally honest tone. The stories of her comings and goings are not for the very young. She describes her experience in Europe in layers as she sees the past living beneath the present.

“When I got to Italy I felt so good I thought I saw Leonardo da Vinci walking there, Michael Angelo too, she said. “I loved it, I felt like home there.”

Next week, the Doña Ana Arts Council will host a book signing and sale with Fe at their gallery, 250 W. Amador Ave., Suite B, on Wednesday, Nov. 16, from 4-7 p.m. For information on signing, call 575-523-6403.


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