Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chicanonautica: What If a Chicano Wrote the Great American Novel?

While going over my notes from my latest road trip with my wife, I felt good. Damn, I almost said aloud, I’m really good at Americana.

But then, when I do it, and put it out for the world to see, it becomes Chicanonautica. Even when readers don’t know anything about me, my point of view comes through loud and clear. I can’t help it.

In a motel in Flagstaff, I channel surfed through an alarming number of TV news stories about racism. An election is coming, and The Border is becoming an issue again. Rumors of cannibalism, human sacrifice, and Aztlán secessionistas are being dusted off, and thrown into the hysteria mills. As one of the anti-immigration protestors in Murrieta, California said, “We want to be safe.”

I’ve seen it happen in Arizona . . . a few Spanish words, some brown skin, and --  PANIC ATTACK!

And with the gradual militarization of The Border, who knows what kind of back up would be called?

So I shouldn’t be surprised when someone finds it odd that I’d write about America as an American, even though I was born in East L.A., but I’ve always resented it when someone decided that I didn’t look “American” enough for them.

I had mixed feelings when I saw Oscar Zeta Acosta in an anthology of “Latin American” writers. It was nice to see him with all those classy foreigners, but doesn’t he get to be considered an American writer? 

Do I get to be considered an American writer?

Acosta had to sue Hunter S. Thompson to get his books published. It’s still not easy for a Chicano to break into the white man’s publishing industry.

What would happen if a Chicano wrote the Great American Novel? Our families have incredible stories of the American Dream.

Hmm . . . Could the Great American Novel be about an illegal alien? Because, aren’t we all illegal aliens under the skin, kemosabe?

Naw, better let it drop. New York wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Another one of those brilliant ideas that “they” don’t know how to market.

Or are they just afraid?

Or maybe it’s just nostalgia for when American literature was hammered out by heroic, white, male alcoholics on manual typewriters, and U.S. immigration policies inspired the Nazis.

People wonder why I stick to surreal, pulpy sci-fi instead of going for proper literature . . .

Meanwhile, it’s time to check out the online coverage of La Fiesta de San Fermín AKA “The Running of the Bulls” in Pamplona. Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises doesn’t do justice to what the Fiesta has evolved into. I’ve really got to get back to work on my futuristic bullfighting novel.

Ernest Hogan wishes a rapid and successful recovery to Bill Hillman, the American writer who was gored in Pamplona this week.

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