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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What People are Saying About This
Richard Yañez is true to the title of his first book, El Paso del Norte: Stories on the Border. Not only do these stories document, from an insider's privileged perspective, the overlap and collision of cultures, but the over arching theme of border gives the collection a novel like coherence. Yañez creates a vital world rooted in Texas settings and inhabited by characters who are one with place. It's a world that remains realistically convincing even as it conveys metaphorical power. The notion of border comes to be explored on many levels-cultural, political, social, and psychological. Clearly, Yañez knows what he's after, and it's a pleasure to read a writer working out an idea (as opposed to merely rehearsing a predictable agenda)-an idea that's wedded to emotion as authentic and unacademic as a Johnny Cash song.
Richard Yañez's El Paso del Norte made me miss home. I wanted to go to a Good Time Store and load ice into a Grande Guzzler, I wanted to hit Desert Vista Junior High and shoot hoops, I wanted an order of taquitos at Chico's Tacos. His stories, like his characters Apolonio and Manuel from "I & M Plumbing," are quiet and honest. But listen: Yañez is in the proud cry of new Chicano voices crossing over into what have been fenced literary borders."
Richard Yañez has created an entire world here with his tender, yet unsentimental portraits of people struggling and loving and living on the border. It's a testament to his writing that I worried about them long after I'd finished the stories, and that I imagined myself cruising the streets with his characters.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
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.