Tuesday, November 29, 2005

1 Year & Gil's All Fright Diner

by RudyG

Since this week's La Bloga's 1st birthday, I thought I'd add a few thoughts, plus sorta "review" some Spic Spec Fiction.

When I laid out the initial blogger page for La Bloga, it went more like a dutiful exercise--to get M.Ramos off my back--than any labor of literary love. As far as it's gone, to date, it's turned into more than envisioned.

True, it's not the voice of Chicano lit-crit, but, you know--you get four Chicanos together anywhere, and you've got five opinions, four of which are probably driven by inebriation and only one, sober. Tú sabes.

Today, La Bloga is: Manuel Ramos, Michael Sedano, Dan Olivas, Gina Ruiz and, occasionally, this Garcia. Maybe they've each created a wit- and useful, meaningful niche for themselves, even the last guy, when he shows up.

Whatever another year brings, the last one's meant growth, diversity; been informative and entertaining. I know; I've witnessed it and am glad Ramos was on my back.

Now for one of those nonreviews I'm not yet famous for.

I like spec fiction, and I like humor. I think both are genres we Chicanos haven't gone into enough, maybe 'cause we take ourselves too seriously and seem to easily take offense, even with satire. And if you don't believe me, culo, just try making fun of my old lady, again.

I picked up A. Lee Martinez's Gil's All Fright Diner (Tor, 2005, $12.95) hoping to find a good Chicano attempt at humor in the spec fiction realm. The antagonist is an adopted Japanese girl--hot--aka Mistress Lillith, who's about to open the doors to Hell. (If she'd been Chicana, maybe she'd have opened the doors to La Frontera, and really scared the shit out of readers!) I found it worth the read, enjoyable; in some way it might find itself one day a part of Chicano literary lore, depending on who's defining "Chicano."

I couldn't google anything on the author, other than he hails from Terrell, Texas, out east of Dallas, north of the Big Thicket, both damn good places to be from, but not to stay in. Actually, I don't know if Martinez calls himself Chicano, so there I'm assuming he's lucky enough to be one. Anyway, according to M.Ramos, if Martinez calls himself Chicano, then Gil's is a Chicano novel.

From my reading, this is not your generic horror, but rather a comic horror tale, done deadpan-humor style. The only "Chicano thing" about it is on p.83, where middle-aged Wanda Gonzalez, owner of Gonzalez General Repair, replaces some broken glass in the diner; she's got "skin like leather." That, plus Ramos's definition, is all the Chicano there is here.

I prefer a deadpan style of humor; that's just me. I never understood people who try to be funny, like Seinfeld or most WB programs. On the other hand, the deadpan rarely had me ROTF; nomás me hizo reir.

So, if you're into not-so-blatant laughs that include a vampire, werewolf, ghost, ghouls, zombies, and the end of the non-barrio world, pick up a copy. (I liked it enough I decided spoof it in my next unpublished novel, make it less deadpan and more blatantly Chicano.)

Happy Birthday, Fello/a Bloguistas!

Rudy Ch. Garcia

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