Thursday, May 12, 2016

Chicanonautica: ¡Viva Arroyo Grande!

by Ernest Hogan

Why aren't we dancing in the streets? Why is the media obsessing over the stupid election instead of interviewing Jesús Salvador Treviño? Don't they know that his latest book Return to Arroyo Grande is out? Maybe I should crank up Flaco Jimenez, and open my windows . . .

It's a sequel to his other books, The Fabulous Sinkhole and Other Stories and The Skyscraper that Flew and Other Stories. Not just collections, these stories interconnect to form a Great Chicano Novel. I highly recommend getting all three and binge reading them. I did. You should see the smile on my face.

For those of you who haven't discovered these treasures yet, they're stories of Arroyo Grande, Texas, “an ordinary town were unusual things sometimes happen,” as resident Choo Choo Torres, aspiring writer and filmmaker, puts it. And that's understating things. What goes on there transcends genre. There's the usual stuff of magic realism, plus ghosts, zombies, reincarnation, possible wormholes, time travel, alternate universes, futuristic visions, and the trappings of science fiction used to defend against cruel realities.

Choo Choo and his neighbors don't just struggle with life in their barrio. Some of them go out, avoiding the usual clichés of “minority” literature, and pursue their dreams, to Arizona, California, New York, and even to the Moon! And the magic of Arroyo Grande goes with them.

Yeah, I'm deliberately not going into much detail here, as a favor to those of you who haven't read these books. They are that wonderful. And they stay wonderful upon rereading.

In this latest volume, characters are called back – and not by cellphone, Internet, or even snailmail – to help save the town. Once again, we have many stories, and the viewpoints of characters we met in the other books. They fit together, and if I can get away with overusing the word, are wonderful.

Really. This is not hyperbole. I'm fighting to keep my cool here.

And the “ending” suggests that there will be more . . . I certainly hope so.

You can keep Game of Thrones, make mine Arroyo Grande!

Ernest Hogan is the author of High Aztech, Cortez on Jupiter, and Smoking Mirror Blues, and many short stories. His memories of early childhood in East L.A. look like Arroyo Grande.

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