Latinos in Lotusland
(Bilingual Press), edited by Daniel A. Olivas, is a
wonderful anthology that samples contemporary Chicano literature from
Three stories typify the excellent literary work of this anthology. “Gina and Max,” a story by Michael Jaime-Becerra, chronicles the Christmas eve of two misfits. The hopeful Gina and the hapless Max belong together, even as she allows herself to be in the company of vaguely dangerous characters Max befriends and tattoos. In “Drift,” an excerpt from a novel by Manuel Luis Martínez, ‘Sizzler Boy’ leaves home, ends up at a goth party with vampirelike fast friends, but what matters in this story is the ebb and flow of the narrative, itself reflective of Sizzler Boy’s self-abandonment.
Finally, in “Miss East L.A.,” Luis J. Rodríguez transports readers into the politics of the newsroom and a detective story, as Benny transforms himself from a dockworker to a wannbe reporter to a writer who solves a murder, with ganas, intelligence, and perseverance. Other standouts in this anthology include Manuel Muñoz’s “The Comeuppance of Lupe Rivera,” Richard Vázquez’s “Chicano,” Reyna Grande’s “Adriana,” and Salvador Plascencia’s novel excerpt, “The People of Paper.”
Olivas, who regularly reviews books for the El Paso Times,
opens readers’ eyes to a new world of Chicano literature, beyond traditional
characters and stories, to Chicanos redefining themselves today. In
This book review appeared in the Sunday book section of the El Paso Times on April 27, 2008.