by Ramón Betancourt
Publication Date: March 31, 2003
Bind: Trade Paperback
Winner of the University of California at Irvine’s Chicano/Latino Literary Contest
In this debut collection of Spanish-language short stories, Ramón Betancourt crafts portraits of the inhabitants of the urban Hispanic communities located on the southernmost part of California on the border with Mexico. Through their adventures, the characters struggle with complexities of living on the border: poverty, tradition, progress, and changing gender relationships.
In the title story, a young boy and his family scavenge the landfills for food and hope, but when tragedy strikes and the boy is forced to abandon the fantastic truth, only he believes the memory of the life that he’s left behind. Among the other voices painted in the collection are a man who is not spying on the lover of the man living above him, though he listens anxiously to the clatter of her high heels and has memorized her phone number; the renewed promise offered by a guitarrón purchased in a bar in Los Angeles that is shattered when a man’s young dreams are again defeated; a Lolita and her professor who listen to the robbery of a neighboring laboratory; and a bruised and battered boxer who schemes to break his poverty through his fists and plastic packages of cocaine.
Themes of superstition, survival, and success weave through each of the stories included in this engrossing collection. Each character must be armed for survival in the ever-changing world, whether it is on the Mexican side of the border or on the U.S.
Winner, University of California at Irvine’s 2000 Chicano/Latino Literary Contest
“This is a powerful and unusual work that highlights the personal struggles of the borderland’s inhabitants rather than its politics.”
—Críticas (Starred Review)
RAMÓN BETANCOURT is the author of Salsipuedes (Arte Público Press, 2003), winner of the 2000 University of California at Irvine’s Chicano/Latino Literary Contest. Betancourt was born in Tijuana, México, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He currently lives in San Diego, where he teaches in the Department of Engineering at San Diego State University.
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