The Hammon and the Beans and Other Stories

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9781558850712: The Hammon and the Beans and Other Stories

The culture conflict that dominated the border region during the time of Texas' transition from Mexican political status and culture to that of the United States is the dominant inspiration for these stories.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Paredes, an ethnographer, literary critic, and social historian of national repute, is virtually the founder of Chicano cultural studies as an academic discipline. He has also dabbled in fiction, and this volume represents the first time his short stories have been collected in one place. Written between 1940 and 1953, all but two of these 17 stories are being published for the first time. A lengthy critical introduction by Ram¢n Sald¡var of Stanford University situates Paredes's work in a larger historical context, which is absolutely essential to understanding several of the stories that draw on the troubled history of the Chicano community in Texas and (in the case of the story ``The Gringo'') during the events of the Mexican War. The stories fall into several categories: Several, including the title offering, deal with the problems of Mexican-American children growing up in poverty near the US Army's Fort Jones; the best works in the collection are set among the US Army of occupation in Japan; others subtly puncture the myth of machismo. At his best, Paredes writes with darkly tragic irony of men trapped in self-imposed images of masculinity, whether Chicano or Anglo, and of young boys and their first encounters with death. The last two stories in the collection represent a radical departure from the tone of the rest: They are raucous picaresques centering on the machinations of a wily Chicano trickster figure, Johnny Picadero. These bring the book to a surprisingly rollicking conclusion and make one yearn for more stories about Picadero. The collection serves a useful historical purpose, documenting yet another facet of the American literary experience. As literature, the book is uneven, with several of the stories little more than anecdotes. However, the occupation stories and the Picadero tales are well worth reading. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Paredes, best known for his study of Chicano folklore that was the basis for the movie The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez , writes in a voice that is direct, intimate and colloquial, engaging the reader immediately, as he does in the title story: "Once we lived in one of my grandfather's houses near Fort Jones . . . a quiet neighborhood at least, too far from the center of town for automobiles and too near for musical, night-roaming drunks." Composed between 1940 and 1953, these stories are obliquely political: frequently the author uses a child's point of view to explore the themes of poverty, violence and the tension caused by acquiescing to an arbitrary authority. While Paredes succeeds at capturing the emotional essence of each story, many of them are mere sketches--the plots seem mechanical, the characters one-dimensional, the irony heavy-handed. The best pieces escape this fate, notably "A Cold Night," about a boy coming to terms with death, and "Brothers," in which another boy whose best friend is a German refugee confronts racism from an unlikely source. Two other stories which take place after WW II are amusing, picaresque tales involving a soldier named Johnny Picadero . Whether set in South Texas or in occupied Japan, these stories vividly convey the struggle by Mexican-Americans to hold on to their culture and dignity.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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