Notebooks of a chile verde smuggler /

Main Author: Herrera, Juan Felipe.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Tucson : University of Arizona Press, c2002.
Series: Camino del sol
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Splicing names, dates and places with a talismanic array of bilingual references, Herrera uses the rough, unfinished notebook form more or less invented by Aim Csaire in Notebook for a Return to the Native Land to turn his speaker's search for the truth into a force for unsettling existing political and poetic paradigms: "I stand alone on my boulevard, with my small audience of category makers, not word tuners or word flutterers or word hissers or word twisters, I said category makers. I am the idea, I am the concept, I am the liquid syrup that messes with the machine's objectives." By detailing his literary, familial (illustrated with a selection of family photographs) and activist histories, Herrera skillfully confounds preconceptions and prejudices, laying nonviolent dynamite under the tracks of those who would box him in: "We invented Chicano Studies, con manas limpias en las ma$anas, demanding our rights (this sounds old now but we did demand our rights). With our language, our home-poems, our long walks and fasts for justice Delano, Sacra, Coachella. I can say this." Composed of equal parts generational requiem, personal reckoning and political manifesto, these notebooks are deliberately process-oriented and lack the polish of "finished" work, since they are built to deliver a hot green flavor, "let's call it a flavor; it set out on its own." Readers should dig in. (Aug. 24) Forecast: Herrera is professor of Chicano and Latin American studies at Cal State Fresno, and most recently the author of Thunderweavers/Tejedoras de rayos and Giraffe on Fire. The former book contained perhaps too high a Spanish-to-English ratio for some readers, while the latter seemed to disappear despite being awarded a Latino Hall of Fame Book Award at BookExpo this year. This book, too good to ignore, should be Herrera's breakthrough: look for strong reviews in literary magazines and major award nominations. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Distinguished poet and performance artist Herrera (literature, California State Univ., Fresno) here invites us to peek into his poetic diary. Starting with his youth in San Diego, Herrera guides us on a spiritual search for personal and racial identity that is carried out with an arresting display of diversity and virtuosity standard verse mixed up with prose poems, journal entries, letters, and even a sardonically satirical teleplay. This collection lacks the unity and emotion of Herrera's Love After the Riots and delivers a lot of the messages we've heard before and perhaps better expressed. But it stands out for its triumphant, almost self-deprecating sense of humor (in "Juantoomany," for example, Herrera transforms as many words as he can using his first name). Often, this humor is tinged by the juxtaposition of surrealist images, as reflected in numerous stinging one-liners ("I worry about carbohydrate lobotomies" is one of over 100 causes of concern voiced in "Don't Worry Baby"). The poems "Foodstuffs They Never Told Us About" and "Millennium Omens" are similar irreverent lists. As a veritable smorgasbord of originality, this work shows us a writer at the height of his creative powers. Recommended. Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.