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The Useless Servants
     

The Useless Servants

by Rolando Hinojosa
 

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In The Useless Servants, award-winning author Rolando Hinojosa captures the obscenity and pointlessness of war in the pages of a Korean War journal written by his fictional everyman, Rafe Buenrostro.

Drawing from his own experiences, Hinojosa probes the mind of this Texas country boy who suddenly finds himself in an unknown country fighting in an

Overview

In The Useless Servants, award-winning author Rolando Hinojosa captures the obscenity and pointlessness of war in the pages of a Korean War journal written by his fictional everyman, Rafe Buenrostro.

Drawing from his own experiences, Hinojosa probes the mind of this Texas country boy who suddenly finds himself in an unknown country fighting in an undeclared war for an unknown reason.  Meeting and befriending an unending stream of people who are gone as suddenly as they appear, Rafe alternately fears for his life and is bored to death.

Dehumanized by the horrors that surround him, Rafe latches onto the one thing that offers hope for survival:  his diary.  He records his observations laconically and without emotion in a routine geared to survival and to becoming more effective in the performance of his grisly duty as an artilleryman.  Hinojosa is successful in building suspense and irony as much by what is unsaid, unrecorded in the diary, as by what is expressed.

In The Useless Servants, Hinojosa departs from his usual genre, the generational novels that chronicle the human comedy in an imaginary region on the Texas-Mexico border.  He sets aside the usual theme of inter-ethnic and interpersonal conflict to confront a painful chapter in his own life, placing Rafe Buenrostro, one of his alter egos, in a far more serious drama lived on the edge of sanity on the frontier between physical survival and spiritual destruction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The timeless truths of war--the slaughter of civilians, atrocities condoned, legions of refugees--are related with near-documentary realism in this powerful novel of the Korean War. Told in the form of a journal kept by Rafe Buenrostro, a Mexican-American soldier from Texas, it also portrays the social dynamics of this particular conflict. Through his protagonist's voice, Hinojosa ( Rites and Witnesses ; Partners in Crime ) draws on his own experience in Korea to reveal the racism that Mexican-Americans faced from fellow soldiers. Buenrostro's tense, fragmentary diary entries expose combat's seamy underside: black troops kept in segregated units (though they would later fight alongside whites); thousands of Korean civilians shot to death in unacknowledged barbarism; Marines massacred after being issued old, inaccurate survey maps; napalm and fragmentation bombs giving an eerie foretaste of Vietnam. As the corpses pile up, those left standing begin to fear they will go crazy: one lieutenant does snap, committing suicide. Though his diary entries preclude developing a plot in the conventional sense, Hinojosa gives us a graphic picture of the unchanging face of war--raw, gritty and inhumane. (Sept.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611927870
Publisher:
Arte Publico Press
Publication date:
10/01/1993
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,006,780
File size:
248 KB

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