“The emotional and practical challenges for a young immigrant are on full display in Grande’s evocative, inspiring memoir.” —People From bestselling author Reyna Grande—whose remarkable memoir The Distance Between Us has become required reading in schools across the country—comes an inspiring account of one woman’s quest to find her place in America as a first-generation Latina university student and aspiring writer determined to build a new life for her family one fearless word at a time. When Reyna Grande was nine years old, she walked across the US–Mexico border in search of a home, desperate to be reunited with the parents who had left her behind years before for a better life in the City of Angels. What she found instead was an indifferent mother, an abusive, alcoholic father, and a school system that belittled her heritage. With so few resources at her disposal, Reyna finds refuge in words, and it is her love of reading and writing that propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz. Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now once again estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream. Through it all, Reyna is determined to make the impossible possible, going from undocumented immigrant of little means to “a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild); a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist “speak[ing] for millions of immigrants whose voices have gone unheard” (Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street); and a proud mother of two beautiful children who will never have to know the pain of poverty and neglect. Told in Reyna’s exquisite, heartfelt prose, A Dream Called Home demonstrates how, by daring to pursue her dreams, Reyna was able to build the one thing she had always longed for: a home that would endure.
The first book length study of this genre, Collective Identity and Cultural Resistance in Contemporary Chicana/o Autobiography facilitates new understandings of how people and cultures are displaced and reinvent themselves. Through the examination of visual arts and literature, Juan Velasco analyzes the space for self-expression that gave way to a new paradigm in contemporary Chicana/o autobiography. By bringing together self-representation with complex theoretical work around culture, ethnicity, race, gender, sex, and nationality, this work is at the crossroads of intersectional analysis and engages with scholarship on the creation of cross-border communities, the liberatory dimensions of cultural survival, and the reclaiming of new art fashioned against the mechanisms of violence that Mexican-Americans have endured.
Latinx Writing Los Angeles offers a critical anthology of Los Angeles’s most significant English-language and Spanish-language (in translation) nonfiction writing from the city’s inception to the present. Contemporary Latinx authors, including three Pulitzer Prize winners and writers such as Harry Gamboa Jr., Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Rubén Martínez, focus on the ways in which Latinx Los Angeles’s nonfiction narratives record the progressive racialization and subalternization of Latinxs in the southwestern United States. While notions of racial memory, coloniality, biopolitics, internal colonialism, cultural assimilation, Mexican or pan-Latinx cultural nationalism, and transnationalism permeate this anthology, contributors advocate the idea of a contested modernity that refuses to accept mainstream cultural impositions, proposing instead alternative ways of knowing and understanding. Featuring a wide variety of voices as well as a diversity of subgenres, this collection is the first to illuminate divergent, hybrid Latinx histories and cultures. Redefining Los Angeles’s literary history and providing a new model for English, Spanish, and Latinx studies, Latinx Writing Los Angeles is an essential contribution to southwestern and borderland studies.
This volume combines literary analysis and theoretical approaches to mobility, diasporic identities and the construction of space to explore the different ways in which the notion of return shapes contemporary ethnic writing such as fiction, ethnography, memoir, and film. Through a wide variety of ethnic experiences ranging from the Transatlantic, Asian American, Latino/a and Caribbean alongside their corresponding forms of displacement - political exile, war trauma, and economic migration - the essays in this collection connect the intimate experience of the returning subject to multiple locations, historical experiences, inter-subjective relations, and cultural interactions. They challenge the idea of the narrative of return as a journey back to the untouched roots and home that the ethnic subject left behind. Their diacritical approach combines, on the one hand, a sensitivity to the context and structural elements of modern diaspora; and on the other, an analysis of the individual psychological processes inherent to the experience of displacement and return such as nostalgia, memory and belonging. In the narratives of return analyzed in this volume, space and identity are never static or easily definable; rather, they are in-process and subject to change as they are always entangled in the historical and inter-subjective relations ensuing from displacement and mobility. This book will interest students and scholars who wish to further explore the role of American literature within current debates on globalization, migration, and ethnicity.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY In the tradition of Tobias Wolff, James Ellroy, and Mary Karr, a stunning memoir of a mother-son relationship that is also the searing, unflinching account of a murder and its aftermath Tombstone, Arizona, September 2001. Debbie St. Germain’s death, apparently at the hands of her fifth husband, is a passing curiosity. “A real-life old West murder mystery,” the local TV announcers intone, while barroom gossips snicker cruelly. But for her twenty-year-old son, Justin St. Germain, the tragedy marks the line that separates his world into before and after. Distancing himself from the legendary town of his childhood, Justin makes another life a world away in San Francisco and achieves all the surface successes that would have filled his mother with pride. Yet years later he’s still sleeping with a loaded rifle under his bed. Ultimately, he is pulled back to the desert landscape of his childhood on a search to make sense of the unfathomable. What made his mother, a onetime army paratrooper, the type of woman who would stand up to any man except the men she was in love with? What led her to move from place to place, man to man, job to job, until finally she found herself in a desperate and deteriorating situation, living on an isolated patch of desert with an unstable ex-cop? Justin’s journey takes him back to the ghost town of Wyatt Earp, to the trailers he and Debbie shared, to the string of stepfathers who were a constant, sometimes threatening presence in his life, to a harsh world on the margins full of men and women all struggling to define what family means. He decides to confront people from his past and delve into the police records in an attempt to make sense of his mother’s life and death. All the while he tries to be the type of man she would have wanted him to be. Praise for Son of a Gun “[A] spectacular memoir . . . calls to mind two others of the past decade: J. R. Moehringer’s Tender Bar and Nick Flynn’s Another Bull____ Night in Suck City. All three are about boys becoming men in a broken world. . . . [What] might have been . . . in the hands of a lesser writer, the book’s main point . . . [is] amplified from a tale of personal loss and grief into a parable for our time and our nation. . . . If the brilliance of Son of a Gun lies in its restraint, its importance lies in the generosity of the author’s insights.”—Alexandra Fuller, The New York Times Book Review “[A] gritty, enthralling new memoir . . . St. Germain has created a work of austere, luminous beauty. . . . In his understated, eloquent way, St. Germain makes you feel the heat, taste the dust, see those shimmering streets. By the end of the book, you know his mother, even though you never met her. And like the author, you will mourn her forever.”—NPR “If St. Germain had stopped at examining his mother’s psycho-social risk factors and how her murder affected him, this would still be a fine, moving memoir. But it’s his further probing—into the culture of guns, violence, and manhood that informed their lives in his hometown, Tombstone, Ariz.—that transforms the book, elevating the stakes from personal pain to larger, important questions of what ails our society.”—The Boston Globe “A visceral, compelling portrait of [St. Germain’s] mother and the violent culture that claimed her.”—Entertainment Weekly From the Hardcover edition.
I am one of the few fortunate survivors of the holocaust and the sole survivor of my immediate family. I am compelled to tell my story so future generations will never allow such tragedy to ever happen again. My story is not only about me, its about all of us. It could happen again and is happening every day somewhere. Totally innocent people are caught in the crossfi re between powers that do not respect human life; mass murder has become a common occurrence. Mr. Mayer currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Roslyn.