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  August 2008
Columns
volume 6 number 2
 
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David Banuelos
Mary Bonina's Living Proof
  reviewer
Jerry Garcia
Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature
  reviewer
Alex M. Frankel
Judith Rechter's Wild West
 
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Jerry Garcia August 2008
   

 

Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature

    The Hollywood Freeway at five was jammed. In the hot California sun,
    headlights appeared heavy-lidded and bored. The drivers all looked as if they’d
    been crying. A bus, like a silver serpent, barreled between Jaguars exiting east
    toward Pasadena and Chevy’s continuing on to South Central.


        --Kathleen de Azevedo, Latinos in Lotusland, 2008

    A contemporary anthology about Los Angeles might conjure images of La Brea Bakery, Melrose Avenue, beaches, earthquakes and riots. From an anthology comprised of Latino authors, the uninitiated might imagine stereotypical images of serapes and gangland khaki. In Daniel Olivas’ Latinos in Lotusland both these cities are portrayed though the eyes of a culture that thrives in the City of Angels and its surrounding communities. Indeed, these stories both dispel clichés and introduce the reader to a new vantage from everyday folks of the prevalent Southern California culture. These are engaging stories told by writers as diverse as the city’s architecture.
    There are no false notes in their stories—people rich in craft and craftiness. In this collection of short stories and novel-excerpts, thirty-four writers spanning sixty years of fiction writing, entertain and inform with rich prose, dialogue and drama. The young, the old and the middle-aged, the straight and gay are all well represented through skilled writing about modern day Latinos. These are stories of want-to-be Zoot Suiters, of graffiti taggers and cement finishers, of screenwriters and film editors, of faithful Catholics who practice liturgical worship and those who fear mythological curses, and turn-of-the-21st Century teenagers growing up in So Cal.
    Daniel Olivas, author of Devil Talk: Stories (Bilingual Press, 2004) is a writer living in the San Fernando Valley whose own prose is full of heart and personality; it is no wonder that his choice of stories and excerpts are such remarkable arguments for the artistry of the written word. There is music in the language of this anthology that is as melodic as any romantic ballad or theatrical presentation. The visuals are strong in image and character. There are plenty of local Los Angeles voices in this anthology, the likes of Conrad Romo, Danny Romero, Melanie Gonzalez, and the list goes on, who are truly a new generation of talented Latino writers. Prominent contributors include; from the ground breaking Chicano (© 1970 Richard Vasquez), the colloquialism of Helena Maria Viramontes, who’s most recent novel And Their Dogs Came With Them (Simon and Shuster) has met critical acclaim, and renowned E.L.A. gang-life chronicler, Luis Rodriquez lends a short story from his 2002 collection The Republic of East L.A. (Rayo).
    Latinos in Lotusland is an enjoyable read which, though provincial in title, is universal in its ability to entertain and educate the world to its new promise in literature.
    Contributors include: Kathleen Alcalá, Frederick Luis Aldama, Lisa Alvarez, Victorio Barragán, Daniel Chacón, Kathleen De Azevedo, Alex Espinoza, Rudy Ch. Garcia, Estella González, Melanie González, Rigoberto González, Reyna Grande, Stephen D. Gutiérrez, Álvaro Huerta, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Manuel Luis Martínez,Alejandro Morales, Manuel Muñoz, Daniel A. Olivas, Melinda Palacio, Salvador Plascencia, John Rechy, Jennifer Silva Redmond, Manuel Ramos, Sandra Ramos O'Briant, Wayne Rapp, Luis J. Rodríguez, Danny Romero, Conrad Romo, Jorge Saralegui, Mario Suárez, Luis Alberto Urrea, Richard Vásquez, and Helena María Viramontes.

Latinos in Lotusland, An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature,
Daniel Olivas, ©2008, Bilingual Review Press, ISBN: 9781931010467, pages 310, Hardcover and paperback.

copyright 2008 Jerry Garcia

   


Jerry Garcia


author's bio

    Jerry Garcia is a poet, photographer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, California who is too old to have been named after The Grateful Dead guitar hero. He has been a producer and editor of television commercials, documentaries and motion picture previews. His poetry has been seen in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, Chaparral, The Chiron Review, Askew, Palabra, Coiled Serpent Anthology and his chapbook Hitchhiking with the Guilty.
www.gratefulnotdead.com jerry@gratefulnotdead.com