Re: RARA-AVIS: jim's hb/noir definitions

Date: 13 Feb 2002

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, or another.

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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