Wetback

The Wetback and Other Stories

$17.95

by Ron Arias

ISBN: 978-1-55885-834-3
Publication Date: September 30, 2016
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 160

In stock

In the title story, Mrs. Rentería shouts, “David is mine!” as she and her neighbors gather about the dead but handsome young man found in the dry riverbed next to their homes in a Los Angeles barrio. “Since when is his name David?” someone asks, and soon everyone is arguing about the mysterious corpse’s name, throwing out suggestions: Luis, Roberto, Antonio, Henry, Enrique, Miguel, Roy, Rafael.

Many of the pieces in this collection take place in a Los Angeles neighborhood that used to be called Frog Town, now known as Elysian Valley. Ron Arias reveals the lives of his Mexican-American community: there’s Eddie Vera, who goes from school yard enforcer to jail bird and finally commando fighting in Central America; a boy named Tom, who chews his nails so incessantly that it leads to painful jalapeño chili treatments, banishment from the neighborhood school and ultimately incarceration in a school for emotionally disturbed kids; and Luisa, a young girl who can’t resist an illicit visit to Don Noriega, an old man the kids call El Mago who is known as a curandero in their neighborhood.

Most of the 14 stories included in this volume were originally published in journals that no longer exist, including El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican-American Thought, Caracol and Revista Chicano-Riqueña. The author of an important novel—The Road to Tamazunchale—published during the Chicano literary movement of the 1970s, Arias was one of the first to use magic realism and connect U.S. Hispanic literature to its more popular, Latin American cousin. The Wetback and Other Stories finally gathers together and makes available the short fiction of a pioneer in Mexican-American literature.

Winner, 2016 Peace Corps Award for Short Stories

“I felt reading these wonderful stories that I was admitted to an adjacent neighborhood, a rich culture that is another world—call it Amexica—both mysterious and magical, that is persuasive through its tenderness. My hope is that Ron Arias continues to write short stories that tell us who we are.”—Paul Theroux

The Wetback and Other Stories is vintage work, but in many ways it’s a breath of fresh Arias. The plots of most of Arias’ stories redound with magic, illustion, dream. Arias’ compelling writing will call you, lure you…if only in your imagination.”—La Bloga

RON ARIAS, a journalist who worked for People magazine for 22 years, is the author of five non-fiction books: Five Against the Sea (Dutton, 1989), Healing from the Heart with Dr. Mehmet Oz (Dutton, 1998), Moving Target: A Memoir of Pursuit (Bilingual Review Press, 2003) and White’s Rules: Saving Our Youth One Kid at a Time with Paul D. White (Random House, 2007). Arias is the author of a foundational Chicano novel, The Road to Tamazunchale (Bilingual Review Press, 1975). He lives with his wife in Hermosa Beach, California.