“We’ve never needed a Mexican before,” someone says at a meeting about the possibility of hiring Jehú Malacara at the Klail, Belken County Bank, known simply as the Bank. But times are changing, and Jehú is smart, capable and well-liked.
Containing two volumes from Rolando Hinojosa’s acclaimed Klail City Death Trip Series—Rites and Witnesses and Korean Love Songs—From Klail City to Korea with Love returns to familiar territory as Hinojosa continues his examination of life along the border, including the discrimination faced by Texas Mexicans and locals’ involvement in war.
In brief, brilliant chapters composed of conversational fragments, each one a tile in a vivid mosaic of narrative, Rites and Witnesses captures the complex relationships and unsettling power struggles in both civilian and military life. Alternating chapters reveal the unfolding plans and schemes of the local elite—bankers, ranchers and real-estate moguls—while on the other side of the globe, Klail City native Corporal Rafe Buenrostro engages in skirmishes with the North Koreans, the Communist Chinese and the power brokers of the U.S. Army.
Korean Love Songs, Hinojosa’s only poetry book, captures the horror of war through Rafe Buenrostro’s recollections. “I’m sick. They didn’t stop coming, / And we wouldn’t stop firing. / But we stopped them. / Brutally.” Passing on his beer ration, he says: “Drink? I don’t even want to eat …” In verse that depicts the slaughter of enemy soldiers, friendships made and lost and a military bureaucracy more interested in discipline than keeping its men safe, Hinojosa chillingly revives the terror and atrocity of human conflict. Originally published in 1978 by Editorial Justa Publications, this installment in the Klail City Death Trip Series has long been out of print.
From Klail City to Korea with Love brings together and makes available two important books in Hinojosa’s lauded series that has frequently been compared to the work of William Faulkner and Gabriel García Márquez.