Night Train to Tuxtla

Overview

This powerful collection of poetry and short prose recollects the Chicana/o experience of the sixties through the nineties as it chronicles the involvement and personal experiences of one of America's most engaging writers. Night Train to Tuxtla brings together the lyric interests and preoccupations that have propelled Juan Felipe Herrera forward during the last quarter century, while representing a mature and distilled sample of the poetic technique he has developed. The collection deals with a vast array of ...
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Overview

This powerful collection of poetry and short prose recollects the Chicana/o experience of the sixties through the nineties as it chronicles the involvement and personal experiences of one of America's most engaging writers. Night Train to Tuxtla brings together the lyric interests and preoccupations that have propelled Juan Felipe Herrera forward during the last quarter century, while representing a mature and distilled sample of the poetic technique he has developed. The collection deals with a vast array of themes and subjects - the music of Carlos Santana, a train ride from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez, the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Mayan Indians in Chiapas - revealing a poetic persona who links a broad variety of motifs and elements. Herrera has created an innovative approach to recent cultural history, a stunning collage that brings many images into one intense, cohesive work of art. Herrera observes that one of his key concerns as a writer has been "to unearth the stories about the Chicano and the Latin American experience. And yet it is not a pure archaeology since language re-creates itself, the speakers, and the events." Readers can be grateful that his is not an exact science; they will be moved by his words.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This gathering of poems, stories and verbal experiments inaugurates Arizona's Camino Del Sol series, to feature Chicana/Chicano writers. Like Herrera's (Exiles of Desire) four previous collections, it is verbally startling, as well as politically and socially challenging. Yet the book is straightforwardly autobiographical in its recollection of ``the swashbuckling Chicano sixties, an amorphous, open-ended moment of creative and political gestation.'' Herrera calls his work a ``Mnch-Mariachi scream-a techno-urban culture gasp jammed up in the thorax.'' His heterodox style, full to the brim with images, owes something to magic realism, the Beat poets, and the storytelling tradition of Herrera's family. His descriptions of his travels are like a Chicano On the Road. The poems are looser than Herrera's previous work, which suits their more narrative content. Sometimes, however, one misses the intense surrealistic compression that has been his characteristic. When the poems drift into sketchiness, Herrera's rambling rhythms coast to a halt. (Sept.)
Library Journal
It seems highly appropriate to offer this as the first volume in a series of Chicano writing edited by Ray Gonzalez, whose frequent anthologies of Chicano and Latino writing set an academic standard. "I am full of beginnings. I am full of wonderings," Herrera confesses. His buoyant, frenzied amazement carries him far, whether in prose or poetry. Most of the pieces begin with casual day-to-day reportage to which Herrera adds zany cultural references replete with ghetto humor. Herrera breaks up a linear chronicle by rushing now here, now there. Surreal elements enter, often in the form of word-association games ("I will call for a tree-hunger; limba/to push on, nibble, lift up"). Beginning with a strong foothold in family life and his awakening to Third World consciousness, he delves deeper into a color-blind, ethereal utopia as the book progresses. A closing glossary seems extraneous: those who've read this far aren't bothered by unfamiliar words. Recommended.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816514854
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Series: Camino Del Sol
  • Pages: 130

Table of Contents

Train Notes
Zoot Suit on a Bed of Spanish Rice 5
Let Yourself Be Sidetracked by Your Guiro 7
How to Do the Merengue in the End Zone 10
Aztec Roses 13
Milagros & Ancient Angels 18
M.O.C.O.S. (Mexicans or Chicanos or Something) 21
Rolling to Taos on an Aztec Mustang 24
Mariachi Drag Star 39
Zeta 45
Night Train to Tuxtla 55
Tatarema 57
One Is for Maax, One is for Jabali 62
Memoria(s) from an Exile's Notebook of the Future 65
Rodney King, the Black Christ of Los Angeles and All Our White Sins 79
City Paint 86
These Words Are Synonymous, Now 90
Norteamerica, I Am Your Scar 97
Fuselage Installation 101
Writing by the Hand 103
AIDS Hearing in the Metropolis 105
The Soldier's Bluish Mane 108
Glamorous Treacheries 110
The Sea During Springtime 112
Auburn 116
Aviary 118
Iowa Blues Bar Spiritual 120
Alligator 123
Blue Coat, White Shirt 126
Loss, Revival, and Retributions (Neon Desert Collage) 129
On the Day of the Dead, Mr. Emptiness Sings of Love 131
Speckled w/ Razor 134
Letter to the Hungry Students of Berlin 137
Glossary 147
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