Thursday, June 02, 2022

Chicanonautica: Where was Tom Miller?

by Ernest Hogan

He’s not ethnically in the Latinoid continuum, but I think that Tom Miller deserves to be considered an honorary Chicano. He’s lived in Tucson most of his life, and a lot of his writing has been about Aztlán, the border, Latin America, and even Spain, where he explored Don Quixote’s locations and legacy. (I also consider El Quijote to be an honorary Chicano, but I’ll discuss that some other time.)

Throughout his travels and his journalist’s search to find and reveal the truth, he has learned a lot more about our roots and realities than a lot of Latino or Latinx activists.

I also happen to know that he reads La Bloga.

One of his books is On the Border, another is Revenge of the Saguaro, and still another, The Trail of the Panama Hat. He tracked the origins of the song “La Bamba,” sought out Jack Ruby’s kitchen sink, and found love in Castro’s Cuba. He’s written for Esquire, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Life, The Chicago Quarterly Review, The New Yorker, and many others.

This was while mastering the difficult art of living as a freelance writer.  I busted my ass for years trying it, and finally had to go the day job route. It’s a hard life of hustling and insecurity. I admire anyone who can pull it off.

Despite the difficulties, the freelancer's life has its perks. It generates adventures and stories. Now many of these stories, parts of which can be found in his other books, are available in Where was I?: A Travel Writer’s Memoir.

I reveled in it, and not just because I’m obsessed with writer’s lives and careers. Tom Miller’s writing is full of life beyond workaday journalism or commercial travelogues. He is a Writer (yes, the capital W was intentional). 

Not only are fascinating places described, but history is visited: the counterculture, the Cold War, the changes of the turn of centuries. And his work deserves a place in our literary culture.

Where was I? is not only an exquisite read, but got me thinking about how America doesn’t appreciate its writers. They produce wonderful bodies of work and get forgotten in their old age. If you haven’t read any of Tom Miller’s books, I recommend that you do. We will all benefit from it.

Ernest Hogan writes science fiction. He also writes about his travels. This is all while being unashamedly Chicano.


msedano said...

I'm lookng forward to reading Tom Miller's latest work. thanks for the heads-up.

RudyG said...

Plus his Trading With The Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba stands as one of the best [gringo] books on Cuba. My fave.

Manuel Ramos said...

Thanks for reminding us about Tom Miller. And speaking of Quixote as Chicano, if you get a chance, check out the play Quixote Nuevo by Octavio Solis. I think you will like it.