Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Radio DJ Suspected of being chupacabra.
Review: Max Uballez. Alexander Uballez. Chuy de Cabra. The Journey Home. The Chupacabra.
n.p.: Chuy de Cabra Books, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-9909308-1-5 ebook via publisher link here.
I didn’t grow up knowing about chupacabras. Seems to me I learned its name only recently,
not more than a few years. I grew up with el cucui. We would huddle around a crackling firepit getting escalofrios at owl calls, populating dreams with spirits of the night. We didn’t have a chupacabra because it hadn’t been invented yet.
Wherever the hybrid vampire-werewolf story of la chupacabra came from, it’s well-known enough nowadays to be the basis of speculative fiction in a fun read from an independent publisher.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn somewhere in the guts of a big library a researcher toils amid the microfiche and dusty ephemera, looking for that first mention in a folklorist newsletter, an allusion buried in ancient usenet archives. For all I know, either Max Uballez or Alexander Uballez started it way back when. Their novel, Chuy de Cabra, takes the devil by the horns and scores a winner. It’s fun.
The authors have given their chupacabra a taste for human flesh. Along with a diabolic power to rob a body of vitality--brush up against, a tap on the shoulder, hours later the victim has aged thirty years and lethally enervated--chupacabra inhabits the body of someone you know. The cops think it's Chuy, and he's not sure he's not.
Chuy de Cabra spins speculative fantasy out of shape-shifting, time and place dislocation, multidimensionality, police brutality, bilingualism. Here and there the writing sparkles with psychedelic force and draws a smile. “Otra!” the reader says, “give me another little piece like that.”
It may be mere coincidence how this literary romp mirrors canonical chicano literary motives such as the quest for identity, uses of language and speech, a community-based philosophy, indigenism.
That’s if you want to look at it like that. Maybe that rhetoric lies there on the page because that’s how we are. It’s chicano literature. Sabes que? Forget that stuff.
Take Chuy de Cabra to the wash, or el rio, or the beach, or the back yard. Wherever you kick back and want to or need to get lost in puro fantasy, have a book like Chuy de Cabra. Read it, then give it away. If you buy the ebook, oh well, you have the book all to yourself.
Sadly, Chuy de Cabra will not sit well with curmudgeons, strict linguistic prescriptivists, and irritable critics. The novel needs a sharp blue pencil and sharpening its cast of characters. The writers lose sight of comedy now and again and slip into metaphysical dementia. I know third-party editors are expensive, and word processing does spell check, y todo, so why flip out over discontinuities, translation, grammar, challenging layout, when the story’s there? Would it help if people knew a Tommy Burger plays a key role in making casí everything all right?
Charge! Mariposa Poetry Retreat
La Bloga friend Maritza Rivera alerts poets that registration opens now for Rivera's Catoctin Mountains setting north of Washington, D.C. Click here for the organizer's website.