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: 132

6 in stock

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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.

Click here to listen to an interview with Ron Arias about his collection of short fiction, The Wetback and Other Stories.