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The Valley/ Estampas del valle
     

The Valley/ Estampas del valle

by Rolando Hinojosa
 

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In these vignettes set in the fictional county of Belken along the Texas-Mexico border in the early to mid-twentieth century, Rolando Hinojosa sketches a landscape of Mexican Texans and Anglo Texans living side by side, in good times and bad. “The world's a drugstore: you'll find a little bit of just about everything, and it's usually on sale, too. Belken

Overview

In these vignettes set in the fictional county of Belken along the Texas-Mexico border in the early to mid-twentieth century, Rolando Hinojosa sketches a landscape of Mexican Texans and Anglo Texans living side by side, in good times and bad. “The world's a drugstore: you'll find a little bit of just about everything, and it's usually on sale, too. Belken County, Texas is part of the world, and so, it's no different; it's people are packaged in cellophane and they, too, come in all sizes, shapes and in a choice of colors.” Some are brave; others are craven. Some are sharp, and some are dull.

Death calls on a regular basis in this first installment of Hinojosa's acclaimed Klail City Death Trip Series. Jehú Malacara was seven when his mother died and nine when his father passed. He has family, but it's Don Víctor Peláez who takes him in and makes him an integral part of the Peláez Tent Show. When la muerte comes for Don Víctor, Jehú is orphaned again. Others die in bar room brawls, in a clandestine amorous tryst at the local Holiday Inn and on the street.

Hinojosa paints his canvas with a montage of life's events—births, weddings, friendships and love affairs—but his brushwork all too frequently highlights the discrimination experienced by Mexican Americans. They lose their land to Anglos, are paid with rotten fruit for their labor and are refused admission to certain cafes. But life goes on. Young men go to war and old men remember their wars, whether the Mexican Revolution, World War II or the Korean War.

This classic novel has never before been available in a bilingual edition; it was originally published in the early 1970s as Estampas del valle and in the early 1980s as The Valley. Frequently compared to William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha and Gabriel García Márquez's Macondo, Rolando Hinojosa's Klail City Death Trip Series is required reading for anyone interested in life along the Texas-Mexico border in the twentieth century.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-05
Reissue, in one volume, of the stories that inaugurated Hinojosa's (Creative Writing/Univ. of Texas) long-running Klail City Death Trip series. Set along the Mexican border in South Texas, the series has a title that echoes Michael Lesy's book about faraway Wisconsin, while its epic ambition seems to owe to William Faulkner, Gabriel García Márquez and Edgar Lee Masters in roughly equal measure. As Arte Público publisher Nicolás Kanellos notes in his too-brief but illuminating foreword, it is one of the foundational texts of Chicano literature, curious publishing history and all: Estampas del valle appeared in Spanish in 1972 and was published in English, much revised and reorganized, as The Valley in 1983, even as the series was moving forward, conjuring Hinojosa's fictitious Belken County into being. In these and the other 20-odd installments of what Kanellos shorthands as KCDT, Hinojosa limns a realistic—and, unusually for its time, not magical realistic, either—world of imagined small towns such as Relámpago (lightning) and Jonesville-on-the-Rio, where everyone knows everyone else. That familiarity, of course, doesn't prevent bad things from happening: Confesses one young man, "I killed Ernesto Tamez, and I did it right there at the Aquí me quedo....He's laid out there somewhere." So speaks Balde Cordero from the workhouse, owning up to his part in a crime of passion that, really, is very ordinary in this place, where friends love and kill each other. Hinojosa's text is full of the casual wisdom that people in small towns will offer ("God's truth it is when it's claimed that nicknames are powerful friends or enemies; I mean, they'll sweep names and characters away"), and it is as revealing of the odd politics of rural Texas life as John Nichols' later, and much more lighthearted, Milagro Beanfield War was on northern New Mexico. Acquiring full force in the context of the story cycle to which they gave birth, Estampas del Valle/The Valley are essential texts for students of borderlands and Mexican-American literature.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781558857872
Publisher:
Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
04/30/2014
Edition description:
Bilingual Eng/Spa Edition
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,134,177
Product dimensions:
8.40(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.70(d)

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