Boy Without a Flag

Rodriguez Jr., Abraham

Published by Milkweed Editions, 1999
ISBN 10: 1571310282 / ISBN 13: 9781571310286
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Synopsis: A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

Abraham Rodriguez, Jr. captures what it's like to grow up too fast amid the crushing poverty of the South Bronx in this collection, a gritty slice of New York Latino life. The Boy Without a Flag is about the rancid underbelly of the American Dream," says the author. "These are the kids no one likes to talk about; they are seen as the enemy by most people. I want to show them as they really are, not as society wishes them to be.” In these truth-telling stories about his neighborhood of Puerto Rican adolescents growing up in the South Bronx, Rodriguez introduces us to the youth who fight every day for survival in our cities.

From Kirkus Reviews: In seven stories that chronicle growing up Puerto Rican in the South Bronx--surrounded by violence, promiscuous sex, and casual drug use--Rodriguez captures the quick, jagged rhythms of street life. In the title piece, the narrator, who wants to be a writer, becomes enamored of his father's stories about American imperialism and refuses to salute the flag. After a big brouhaha, the authorities finally bring the father, intimidated and ready for compromise, into the situation, and the boy, diminished but aware of the world's complexity, capitulates. ``No More War Games'' introduces a 12-year-old girl, Nilsa, who--in a few pages--grows up fast, moving from ``war games'' (bottles and rocks thrown with a vengeance) to an exploration of her emerging sexuality. ``Babies'' is a gritty underbelly-of-life fiction about a female narrator, a 16-year-old junkie, who, denying the strength of her habit, watches one friend give away a baby before getting pregnant herself and choosing an abortion. Likewise, in ``Elba,'' Rodriguez dramatizes the way a young mother tries to raise her baby and make a life with the father, but then, in despair, leaves the baby so that she can have a night out. In ``The Lotto,'' one of the most powerful stories here, Dahlia loses her innocence amid dreams of the Lotto but tests negative for pregnancy, whereupon pregnant Elba (who reappears) breaks off the friendship. ``Birthday Boy'' shows a kid's descent into petty crime and indifference after a childhood of betrayal, desertion, and abuse. ``Short Stop,'' about Marty the motorman, is more buoyant than the others, mostly because Marty, accosted on all sides by crazies, goes about his business and survives. Occasionally derivative in its use of dialect, but a debut that's almost always striking in its bleakness, its empathy, and its convincing detail. A couple of these pieces previously appeared in Story. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Title: Boy Without a Flag
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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