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Junior College
     

Junior College

by Gary Soto
 
National Book Award finalist Gary Soto presents a collection of forty new poems that will bring a wry smile of recognition to anyone who endured the angst, anxiety, and misguided realities of childhood and adolescence. Here are poems about the mixed joys of owning a dog who is so obviously inferior to all others in the neighborhood; about the blessings of knowing

Overview

National Book Award finalist Gary Soto presents a collection of forty new poems that will bring a wry smile of recognition to anyone who endured the angst, anxiety, and misguided realities of childhood and adolescence. Here are poems about the mixed joys of owning a dog who is so obviously inferior to all others in the neighborhood; about the blessings of knowing Italian (thus becoming closer to the Pope and, hence, salvation); and about Soto's years attending junior college during the early '70s in search of truth (wisdom not being possible). The work of America's foremost Chicano poet resonates with the comic and the deadpan, and with a rare understanding that transcends the ordinary while remaining true to the heart.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Heidi Borton
Prolific author Soto has described his Hispanic Catholic childhood in many of his previous poems, writing with stunning and sensual imagery of poverty and God-longing. In this volume he reiterates childhood and adolescent memories and, though still utilizing his considerable talent, brings forth much darker, more troubling, and more cynical conclusions. There are unblinking self-revelations here: youthful indifference and cruelty to his "inferior dog," neurotic preoccupations with hygiene and disease, adolescent sexual fantasies and voyeurism. The poet's experience in junior college itself is depicted as significantly lacking in relevance or fulfillment, with inebriated professors and maddening monotony. This reader found easy identification with these lines from "Everything Twice": "I tried astronomy,/which was more like honest-to-goodness math/Than the star of Bethlehem shining down good news./I was never good/At science." There is surrealism also, as in "Urban Planning": "Clouds pass with their hands open./Rains fall with the coinage of October leaves." This is not Soto's best work; it will appeal primarily to adult readers. Photos. Biblio. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
Soto's 15th book of poetry is both a place for discovery and an exploration of how discrimination limits one's potential for growth. Like a fish wiggling upstream, Soto struggled free from the stereotypes ("Mexican rednecks") of Chicano life in the San Joaquin Valley and Fresno, California, in the 1960s. Nostalgia for an innocent time is offset by the probings in vigorous, plain diction of an unconventional youth "huddled against" a "bewildered and nervous" family, "weak-eyed" teachers, and the commonplace, "ugly" world of "scrams and coughing and palpitating hearts." (Images of "dead water" in the town's canals and ditches reinforce the sense of a degraded environment.) The poems trace a trajectory of deepening ethnicity, documenting the Mexican American heritage and emphasize higher education's role in expanding options. Sometimes labeled "America's foremost Chicano poet," Soto would more accurately be called one of America's foremost contemporary poets.Frank Allen, Northampton Community Coll., Tannersville, Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811815437
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
03/01/1997
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
1.00(w) x 1.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Gary Soto is one of today's most celebrated Chicano writers. He has received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and his New & Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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