"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Latino Literature - Chicano Literature - "Can you not be Gay"; Mexican New York, Peruvian Notebooks, and the Latino Poet of Our Times

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Hello folks,

Some new books to mention:

The Peruvian Notebooks by Braulio Munoz on the University of Arizona Press’ Camino Del Sol series.

The description is as follows:

“This lyrical, deeply affecting novel portrays the life of an undocumented Peruvian immigrant to the United States and his struggle and failure to achieve the "American dream." Although Antonio Alday Gutierrez dreams of great success when coming to America, he accepts work as a security guard at a shopping mall and lives in a modest apartment.

To soften the bleak reality of his disappointing life, Antonio invents a privileged Peruvian past to mislead his new American friends. He also sends letters to his family in Peru boasting of a thriving business and large home. This double deception leads Antonio to commit an act of desperation to conceal the drab reality of his new American life. As the novel opens, Antonio is waiting in his apartment for the police to arrest him.

Over the next three hours, Antonio re-reads his old notebooks and letters to and from his family.

He also reflects on his life in America and his struggle with El Azar—the unrelenting, unforgiving sense of fate that has dogged his steps since childhood.

Told in a series of flashbacks, letters, and excerpts from notebooks, this epistolary novel takes readers on a cultural and spiritual journey, touching on themes of self-identity, memory, border crossing, and death.

Muñoz artfully layers the narrative with different voices, times, and places to offer a profound vision of the immigrant experience. One of the first immigrant stories told from the Peruvian point of view, this novel provides a rich portrait of ambition, self-deception, and acceptance.”

Braulio Muñoz was born in
Peru. Before coming to America he was a stage actor, political leader, and radio and print journalist. He is currently Eugene M. Lang Research Professor and a professor of sociology at Swarthmore College.

Can’t you “not be gay”

For those of you in Orogrande, before you jump on me, I'm being sarcastic folks, but it leads me to this interesting book I just received. Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversion in the Ex-Gay Movement by Tanya Erzen on University of California Press. I remember in the second X-Men movie the parrents asking Bobby, "Can't you not be a mutant." If you read some of my earlier posts, I described how religion would be entering literature more and is the next nitch for publishers. Anthony Campolo wrote about the failure of some of these programs like those described in STraight to Jesus in his book Speaking My Mind: Speaking My Mind: The Radical Evangelical Prophet Tackles the Tough Issues Christians Are Afraid to Face. There have been a slew of books about “taking the church away from the right.” Just go to any bookstore. Jim Wallis, Campolo, etc.

Not Chicano(a) letters, but here’s a description:

“Every year, hundreds of gay men and lesbians join ex-gay ministries in an attempt to convert to non-homosexual Christian lives.

In this fascinating study of the transnational ex-gay movement, Tanya Erzen focuses on the everyday lives of men and women at New Hope Ministry, a residential ex-gay program, over the course of several years.

Straight to Jesus traces the stories of people who have renounced long-term relationships and moved from other countries out of a conviction that the conservative Christian beliefs of their upbringing and their own same-sex desires are irreconcilable. Rather than definitively changing from homosexual to heterosexual, the participants experience a conversion that is both sexual and religious as born-again evangelical Christians.

At New Hope, they maintain a personal relationship with Jesus and build new forms of kinship and belonging. By becoming what they call "new creations," these men and women testify to religious transformation rather than changes in sexual desire or behavior.

Straight to Jesus exposes how the Christian Right attempts to repudiate gay identity and political rights by using the ex-gay movement as evidence that "change is possible." Instead, Erzen reveals, the realities of the lives she examines actually undermine this anti-gay strategy.”

From the Inside Flap
"Erzen is sensitive, savvy, and provocative. Her mastery of historical sources, ethnographic technique, and accessible writing style are evident throughout. She illuminates aspects of conservative Christianity central to the 'culture wars,' deepening our understanding of the movement's internal struggles over sexuality, gender, and family issues. Erzen has written a wonderful book."--Diane Winston, author of Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army

"Tanya Erzen's wonderful and timely book provides us with a compelling cultural history of the Christian right in the post-war period--from the cold war to family and sexual politics--as well as remarkable ethnographic insight into the dynamics of Exodus International. With compassion, humor, and insight, Erzen takes the reader through the ideological, organizational, and daily practices used in efforts to change people's theological and sexual orientations, from self-help to conversion testimony."--Faye Ginsburg, Professor of Anthropology,
New York University, author of Contested Lives.”

Tanya Erzen is Assistant Professor of Comparative Studies at
Ohio State University. She is the coeditor of Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City (2001).

Mexican New York

Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants by Robert Courtney Smith. This came out earlier this year but was recently sent to us. Probably much of what Rigo and Sergio know already about New York, but you can read it here:

“Drawing on more than fifteen years of research, Mexican New York offers an intimate view of globalization as it is lived by Mexican immigrants and their children in New York and in Mexico.

Robert Courtney Smith's groundbreaking study sheds new light on transnationalism, vividly illustrating how immigrants move back and forth between New York and their home village in Puebla with considerable ease, borrowing from and contributing to both communities as they forge new gender roles; new strategies of social mobility, race, and even adolescence; and new brands of politics and egalitarianism.

Smith's deeply informed narrative describes how first-generation men who have lived in New York for decades become important political leaders in their home villages in Mexico.

Smith explains how relations between immigrant men and women and their U.S.-born children are renegotiated in the context of migration to New York and temporary return visits to Mexico. He illustrates how U.S.-born youth keep their attachments to Mexico, and how changes in migration and assimilation have combined to transnationalize both U.S.-born adolescents and Mexican gangs between New York and Puebla.

Mexican New York profoundly deepens our knowledge of immigration as a social process, convincingly showing how some immigrants live and function in two worlds at the same time and how transnationalization and assimilation are not opposing, but related, phenomena.”

From the Inside Flap
"An ethnographic classic and the best ethnography of migration that I have ever read."--Roger Waldinger, coauthor of How the Other Half Works

"A compelling, multi-dimensional portrait of Mexicans in New York. Smith authoritatively examines, in considerable detail and with convincing ethnographic evidence, how immigration patterns have drastically changed over the last 15 years, creating a group of 'transnational migrants.'"--Francisco Lomeli, author of U.S. Latino Literatures and Cultures

"Many observers of American migration have noticed the increasing formation of transnational communities instead of one-way transfers from old country to new. In his warm, perceptive, richly documented study of a Mexican town, its
New York counterpart, and the connections between them, however, Robert Smith has lived, chronicled, and reinterpreted the human experience of transnationalism. He shows us how individual and collective transformations interact, producing surprising new varieties of social life."--Charles Tilly, author of Durable Inequality

"Studying local processes over an extended period of time has allowed Smith to make a major theoretical and methodological contribution to our understanding of the migration experience. Smith brilliantly succeeds in detecting as yet unrecognized dynamics in the increasingly complex and multi-sited character of migration."--Saskia Sassen, author of Guests and Aliens

"In this essential book, Robert Courtney Smith provides insight on
New York City in a new and important way. After years of research and observation, Smith documents a world through the eyes of the city's growing Mexican population. Smith's crucial points about immigration and transnational identity make compelling reading because of the sense of joy in his writing at being so close to a community that is redefining the American immigrant experience."--Deborah Amos, Correspondent, National Public Radio

"The big contributions in ethnography come from doing something ambitious and novel in data gathering. Smith's research is not only unprecedented in its fieldwork, his analyses are consistently subtle, surprising and omni-relevant to major sociological issues. An instant classic, Mexican New York deeply carves a new benchmark for immigration studies."--Jack Katz, professor of sociology, University of California Los Angeles

Chicano Art Magazine

I’ve got this on the web, but Chicano artist Jerry Vigil put this out which I caught in a forward:

“Check this out, a new magazine about Chicano art. It is out of LA and needs
all the community help to get up and flowing, You can help by subscribing
and passing the link around so as many people become aware of this.
It looks to try to have a national impact!!
Give them a hand! Pass this on!”


My favorite Latino poet, Martin Espada, puts out new book and goes on tour

"The Latino Poet of Our Times," Martín Espada, will read from his new book,

The Republic of Poetry (WW Norton), at the following locations:

For more information see



October 14, 2 pm
Stockbridge Booksellers
Stockbridge, MA
Contact: John Lippman

October 19, 7 pm
Unitarian Meetinghouse
Amherst, MA
Contact: Joan Barberich

October 21, 2 pm
The Book Mill
Montague, MA
Contact: David Lovelace

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