From the award-winning author of Always Running comes a brilliant collection of short stories about life in East Los Angeles. Whether hilariously capturing the voice of a philosophizing limo driver whose dream is to make the most of his rap-metal garage band in "My Ride, My Revolution," or the monologue-styled rant of a tes-ti-fy-ing! tent revivalist named Ysela in "Oiga," Rodriguez squeezes humor from the lives of people who are not ready to sacrifice their dreams due to circumstance.
In these stories, Luis J. Rodriguez gives eloquent voice to the neighborhood where he spent many years as a resident, a father, an organizer, and, finally, a writer: a neighborhood that offers more to the world than its appearance allows.
Poet, essayist and editor Rodriguez (Always Running: La Vida Loca; Gang Days in L.A.) assembles 12 gritty, hard-hitting snapshots taken from the lives of careworn characters struggling to survive amid crime, poverty and racism in the barrio of East Los Angeles. "My Ride, My Resolution" features Cruz Blancarte, a tough but likable limousine driver who witnesses firsthand the heartlessness of the city's rich and famous. When he's allowed to keep the limo overnight, Cruz seizes the opportunity to take sexy neighborhood girl Bernarda out on a date, but with disastrous results. Many stories play on themes of freedom and emotional release, interrelated for better or worse. In "Boom, Bot, Boom" an afternoon of barhopping turns two friends both newly unemployed and miserable into outlaws, while the poignant "Finger Dance" features a heavyhearted son who, after a lifetime of feeling unwanted, searches his dying father's face "for signs of love." Life falls apart quickly for steelworker Enrique in "Mechanics" when he gets laid off and his wife of 12 years moves out, taking the kids with her, yet he experiences a "pervasive serenity" despite his misfortune. Though there are few uplifting moments such as the one in "Sometimes You Dance with a Watermelon," which finds a grandmother attempting to rumba with the giant fruit on her head the collection as a whole attains a spirited, resilient rhythm. (Apr. 9) Forecast: Rodriguez has a strong reputation not only as an award-winning writer, but as the editor of Tia Chucha Press. The marketing campaign including an eight-city author tour, 15-city NPR campaign and print ads is excellent and will help extend what are likely to be strong regional sales in Southern California. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.