i submit the issue not focus on some verbal definition
fitting so neatly into a paragraph. a novel isn't that. last
month, manuel ramos, a writer i admire, introduced a subject
that wasn't there, latino chicana and chicano literature. for
me, a question arose out of interesting elements in reading
chicano crime literature.
in terms of a reading group, folks have "to be read" piles,
so what might propel a particular work, or group of writers,
to the top of the "A" list?
outcast, the cubano guest writer's written-in-english novel,
amply displayed attitudes and atmospherics, hence might be
read within manuel's proposal as latino hard boiled fiction.
i enjoyed that, but partly for the novelty of reading a cuban
writer in the original untranslated text.
ramos' work, desafortunadamente mostly out of print, has lots
of atmosphere-- to the what i'll term 'standard unitedstates
reader'. to that reader, anything to do with latino or
chicana chicano culture qualifies as atmosphere. i wonder if
the people and locales that a chicana or chicano considers
normal wouln't appear, to this same 'standard' reader, tough
and hard? the courtrooms and fancy living rooms montez
inhabits on the other hand, will prove familiar. cultural
contrasts of montez' work and personal life make for added
interest in reading ramos' work, for chicana chicano reader,
as for a hard guy hero, ramos' lawyer character gets into all
sorts of jams, oftimes owing to montez' character, or
weakness thereof. is montez stupied? is montez remorseful?
does montez even care? the man is hard. yet, montez' tender
side toward his dad adds a dimension to this otherwise
noirish hard guy i enjoy as will any reader seeking to open
one's reading horizons to this body of work, not just ramos'
but the montez saga is a great launching point.
distinguishing latina and latino writing from chicana and
chicano writing, i heartily commend your attention to the
latter. translated work from american writers constitutes a
different reading experience from reading the united states'
own chicana and chicano writers who, as any u.s. writer, does
it in english.
i'm encouraged to see such energy devoted to collecting
out-of-print titles because finding chicana and chicano
literature in your book sources will be far easier. some of
manuel ramos' bibliography is in print, and that out stuff
has only recently gone down so you'll find the titles. you'll
find the titles absoring and informing, too.
i imagine the conversations you'll enjoy with friends.
"what do you think of spenser?" to which you'd say, "the old spenser or the new one?" so launches another tired discussion over familiar ground. but imagine the fun when asked the spenser question you answer instead, "spenser never confronted la llorona on a mission district street, did he? let me tell you about Lucha Corpi, this great chicana detective writer..."
ave atque vale mvs c/s
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