The Hammon and the Beans and Other Stories
by Américo Paredes
Published: 30 Jun 1994
Bind: Trade Paperback
The culture conflict that dominated the border region during the time of Texas’ transition away from Mexican political status and culture to that of the United States is the main inspiration for these stories. Here are tales of revolutionaries and guerrilla warriors refracted obliquely quite often through the eyes of children who are directly affected in their schools and families by the political environment. As the title story indicates, there is an ongoing battle within these pages between the Mexican past and the American future; it is not only a tale of the struggle for cultural survival, as one language confronts the other, as land tenancy shifts, as new systems of law and economic organization come into place, but it is also the tale of the everyday folk struggling to survive economically, culturally, and spiritually in the face of rapid change. Some of the stories record another type of cultural confrontation: Mexican-American soldiers at war in Korea and living in Japan. In these stories, all the assumptions about race, culture and politics come into sharp focus as Mexican Americans, a U.S. national minority, now have to find their emotional and cultural space in a world that has become a battlefield very much like the one that transformed northern Mexico into the Southwest United States.
“Paredes . . . writes in a voice that is direct, intimate and colloquial, engaging the reader immediately . . . these stories vividly convey the struggle by Mexican Americans to hold on to their culture and dignity.”—Publishers Weekly
“Necessary reading for anyone interested in the history and culture of South Texas, Chicano literature and American literature of the 20th century. The stories are, above all, a great read.”—The Houston Chronicle
“[Paredes is] a master storyteller and clear-sighted critic of contemporary vernacular, ethnic culture and its historiography.”—Dr. Ramón Saldívar, Stanford University
Américo Paredes (1915-1999), the famed Chicano folklorist who died at the age of 84, is widely considered to have been at the forefront of the movement that saw the birth of Chicana/o literary and cultural studies as an academic discipline in the 1970s and 1980s. He was professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin.
He is the author of numerous ground-breaking works, including With a Pistol in His Hand: A Border Ballad and Its Hero (University of Texas Press, 1970), the novel George Washington Gómez (Arte Público Press, 1990), and two collections of poetry, Cantos de adolescencia / Songs of Youth (Arte Público Press, 2007) and Between Two Worlds (Arte Público Press, 1990).
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