Latino U. S. A.: A Cartoon History

Latino U. S. A.: A Cartoon History

by Ilan Stavans, Lalo Alcaraz
     
 

Latino USA represents the culmination of Ilan Stavans's lifelong determination to meet the challenges of capturing the joys, nuances, and multiple dimensions of Latino culture within the context of the English language. In this cartoon history of Latinos, Stavans seeks to combine the solemnity of so-called "serious literature" and history with the inherently

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Overview

Latino USA represents the culmination of Ilan Stavans's lifelong determination to meet the challenges of capturing the joys, nuances, and multiple dimensions of Latino culture within the context of the English language. In this cartoon history of Latinos, Stavans seeks to combine the solemnity of so-called "serious literature" and history with the inherently theatrical and humorous nature of the comics. The range of topics includes Columbus, Manifest Destiny, the Alamo, William Carlos Williams, Desi Arnaz, West Side Story, Castro, Guevera, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Neruda, García Márquez, the Mariel Boatlift, and Selena. Stavans represents Hispanic civilization as a fiesta of types, archetypes, and stereotypes. These "cliché figurines" include a toucan (displayed regularly in books by García Márquez, Allende, and others), the beloved Latino comedian Cantinflas (known as "the Hispanic Charlie Chaplin"), a masked wrestler, and Captain America. These multiple, at times contradictory voices, each narrating various episodes of Latino history from a unique perspective, combine to create a carnivalesque rhythm, democratic and impartial. For, as Stavans states, "History, of course, is a kaleidoscope where nothing is absolute." Latino USA, like the history it so entertainingly relates, is a dazzling kaleidoscope of irreverence, wit, subversion, anarchy, politics, humanism, celebration, and serious and responsible history.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Noted critic Stavans (The One Handed Pianist and Other Stories) and Chicano artist Alcaraz offer a breezy, quick-paced romp through Latin American history, beginning in 1492 and running through the present day. History lessons presented in a lecture style are often refuted by the satirical asides of minor characters, implying the writer's perspective while failing to offer hard facts. One of the characters is a talking skeleton, but what it represents isn't clear. The illustrations are black-and-white in a brush style, and the whole product has a hurried quality. Readers will get a feel for Latin American history as one of oppression by the dominant majority, but readers lacking prior knowledge or a similar perspective will find Stavans's argument clich d and simplistic.--Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Houston Chronicle
. . . an amusing comic book that outlines the salient features of U.S. Latino history.
Village Voice
Read this primer if you don't want to be left out.
San Antonio Express-News
. . . Latino's kaleidoscopic perspective bubbles with an irreverent mix of Latin politics, wit, self-reference and sincerity.
Austin American-Statesman
Latino USA explores these and similarly serious questions in entertaining cartoon form.
San Fransisco Chronicle
....a cheeky, streetwise take on Latinos.
Kirkus Reviews
Educational comics have an honorable history, forged in the US by the visual didact Larry Gornick, and in Latin America by Rius, to whom Stavans (Amherst) and his artist collaborator pay tribute in their cartoon overview of Latin culture's relation to the US. Mexican-born Stavans here focuses on creating a historical narrative that draws heavily from popular culture and celebrates the mixture of backgrounds that find expression in present-day "spanglish." He develops a cast of speakers that includes a conventional teacher, a toucan (homage to magic realism), the actor Cantinflas, and himself—a typically bespectacled college prof. These three emphasize the basic facts of recent history: the growing Latin presence north of Mexico; the 70 or so different ethnicities and languages south of the border; and the troubled legacy of US imperialism. Stavans gives voice to the unspoken "crucial factor" in Latin history: the mix of "racial types" that influences the course of events. He also highlights legendary Latin figures from the popular bandit Joaquin Murrieta to the saintly missionary Junipero Serra. Along the way, he and Alcaraz provide an alternate view of events familiar to most North Americans: the siege of the Alamo, the Spanish-American War, and American intervention in modern revolutionary struggles. The real strength of the book, though, is in its account of the Latin presence in the US: Stavans plugs his own work on such figures as Mexican film star Cantinflas (and also on the less important Oscar Acosta, the "Samoan" lawyer from Hunter Thompson fame). The three main groups of immigrants—from Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico—each receive due attentionfortheir unique contributions to the evolving Pan-American culture. And Stavans even has kind words for the dissenting views of Mexican-American Richard Rodriquez, whose assimilationist vision isn't so very different from that of Stavans and Alcazar. Despite some odd byways, and an occasional clumsy sentence, a cartoon history for everyone: painless, witty, and inviting. Tomorrow, Tom WHEN PENGUINS ATTACK! Griffin/St. Martin's (128 pp.) paperback original Oct. 2000

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465082216
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
7.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.63(d)
Lexile:
1220L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Ilan Stavans teaches at Amherst College. His books include The Hispanic Condition, The One-handed Pianist and Other Stories, and The Riddle of Cantinflas. He has been a National Books Critics Circle Award nominee and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Latino Literature Prize, amongst many honors.Lalo Alcaraz is a LA-based, internationally renowned editorial cartoonist. He has contributed to the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Times, and Variety.

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