El Paso del Norte: Stories on the Border

Overview

The Chicano characters in Richard Yañez's debut story collection live in El Paso's Lower Valley but inhabit a number of borders-between two countries, two languages, and two cultures, between childhood and manhood, life and death. The teenaged narrator of "Desert Vista" copes with a new school and a first love while negotiating the boundaries between his family's tenuous middle-class status and the working-class community in which they have come to live. Tony Amoroza, the protagonist of "Amoroza Tires," wrestles ...
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Overview

The Chicano characters in Richard Yañez's debut story collection live in El Paso's Lower Valley but inhabit a number of borders-between two countries, two languages, and two cultures, between childhood and manhood, life and death. The teenaged narrator of "Desert Vista" copes with a new school and a first love while negotiating the boundaries between his family's tenuous middle-class status and the working-class community in which they have come to live. Tony Amoroza, the protagonist of "Amoroza Tires," wrestles with the overwhelming grief from his wife's death until an unexpected legacy prompts him with new faith. María del Valle, "La Loquita," the central character of "Lucero's Mkt.," crosses the border into madness while her neighbors watch, gossip, and try to offer-or refuse-aid.

Yañez writes with perfect understanding of his borderland setting, a landscape where poverty and violence impinge on traditional Mexican-American values, where the signs of gang culture strive with the ageless rituals of the Church. His characters are vivid, unique, fully authentic, searching for purpose or identity, for hope or meaning, in lives that seem to deny them almost everything. Yañez's world is that of the Southwestern Chicanos, but the fears and yearnings of his characters are universal. This is the work of a deeply compassionate and highly skilled writer, and the stories are moving and powerful.

Richard Yañez, born and raised in El Paso, Texas, is a graduate of New Mexico State University and Arizona State University. He has taught at Antioch College, Colorado College, and has been a Fellow at Saint Mary's College Center for Women's InterCultural Leadership. His fiction has appeared in Our Working Lives: Short Stories of People and Work and was featured in the Chicano Chapbook Series edited by Gary Soto.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
With a quiet grace and the gravity of those whose lives are permanently on the edge, the characters in Ya-ez's debut collection (seven of eight stories published previously) offer an unvarnished look at Chicano life. The types are largely familiar-party animals, workingmen, poor families and kids growing up the hard way-but the honesty with which they appear is redeeming. In a pair of stories, "Rio Bravo" and "Rio Grande," two drunken incidents yield similar results: Chuco has his lights put out at a bar by a woman with a cue stick when he ogles her female companion, and Joe, across the border for some early morning partying, runs afoul of la migra when he tries to be macho at a demonstration-turned-melée. A mostly retired plumber, in "I&M Plumbing," copes with helplessness about his wife's comatose state after a stroke by fixing the broken courtyard fountain in her nursing home. In "Desert Vista," a boy new to his junior high and his neighborhood deals with the shock of losing his first girlfriend, who dumps him for his only friend while he's grounded for going out with her. The most sustained and hopeful story, "Amoroza Tires," charts a course from despair when a stressed, overworked tire repairman, faced with being a single parent to two daughters after his wife suddenly dies, has a revelation in his junkyard that allows him to turn the corner. Solidly written: tales that are at their best when giving glimmers of transcendence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874175332
  • Publisher: University of Nevada Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Series: Western Literature Series
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 999,049
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Desert Vista 1
Good Time 18
Amoroza Tires 34
Rio Bravo 71
Rio Grande 80
Lucero's Mkt 93
Sacred Heart 110
I&M Plumbing 128
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2003

    Too Familiar

    As I began to read the first story it brought back some of my own memories on Alameda, Zaragoza and North Loop. I could not put the book down until I literally finished reading it. All the stories had some sense of familarity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2003

    A Powerful Debut Collection

    A few years ago, I read the short story, 'Lucero's Mkt.,' in Bilingual Review. I didn't know the author but the story moved me with its powerful, poignant portrait of two lost souls: a woman who had lost her mind (known in the neighborhood as, 'La Loquita') and Rafael, the lonely, owner of the tiendita. When I started to read Richard Yañez's debut collection, 'El Paso del Norte: Stories on the Border,' I was delighted when I came upon 'Lucero's Mkt.' It sat happily nestled among the other borderland stories in this slim, eloquent and vibrant collection. Yañez has a gift: he can bring to life one region in Texas (near the Mexican border) but he doesn't write the same story over and over again. The characters range across the map of Latino experiences: undocumented immigrants, pochos, young, old, male, female, middle-class, indigent. Yañez never falls in the trap known as bathos. He paints an honest picture of life on the border without pulling punches. But he also shows respect for the people he writes about even those who are riddled with imperfections. This is a very fine, accomplished book. I highly recommend it.

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