Latino Fiction Literature Analysis Chapter 2 Part 3
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Latino Fiction &
he Modernist Imagination

By John S. Christie, Ph.D.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6


 Part I Part I Part I Part 1 Part I Part I

Part II

Part II

Part II

Part II Part II Part II


Part III

Part III

Part III   Part III


Chapter Two (Part III): The "Magic" of Influence Upon Latino Narrative

         Roberto Fernandez uses the phrase in an early scene of Raining Backwards to broaden the meaning of a particular situation.  The young Cuban-American, Eloy, frequently visits his neighbor in order to hear her nostalgic glorifications of Cuba's beaches.  In return for her stories, he washes her back.  "Eloy commenced lathering the sponge without realizing that many years later he would forbid his wife to use a sponge to do the dishes, much less bathe the kids. This strange spongephobia would last throughout his life" (15). The stretching of time pulls usaway from a voyeuristic view of a sexual scene between the boy and the nostalgic Mirta by directing our attention into the future and toward the long lasting effects of the incident.  We are meant to laugh at the "spongephobia," and asked to grasp Eloy's disgust as we distance ourselves from the event.  The consequence of the event, not the description of the event as it happens or Eloy's reflection upon the event -- since his opinion is never directly given -- communicates the boy's displeasure with Mirta, and, by inference, a displeasure for the dreamy reminiscences of exiled Cubans.  The phrase joins the past, present and future in such a way as to comment upon the destructive consequences of nostalgic revelry.   

            Cecile Pineda self-consciously uses the line both to open The Love Queen of the Amazon, as well as to open the novel within the novel being written by one of her characters (of the same name and about the heroine of the novel).  Pineda begins her novel:


Many years later when there was little doubt left, people still marveled how Ana Magdelena as a young girl at least had possessed all the qualities you would expect in a young girl of good but impoverished family. 'Who could have imagined,' they said, 'that one day she would become known as a succubus?'

The phrase "many years later" encourages the reader to see events in terms of their consequences.  Simultaneously provided with Ana's story and people's future attitudes toward her (people "still" marveling), the reader can only assume that these types of attitudes remain, that society's views of the proper are very much a part of the present.  To the mythic establishment of non-time, as in Garcia  Marquez, Pineda adds her own touch of sarcastic wit.   As the novel progresses, she openly parodies One Hundred Years of Solitude as well as its author.  The flowery prose of Ana's comical husband, the "illustrious Federico Orgaz y Orgaz," should seem familiar:


Many years later, when she appeared before the town fathers, Ostencia Candelaria remembered when her mother had first showed her lace maker's bobbins.  It was a time when the world was first conceived, and nothing, not even vice, had been invented.  There were no words for things like overhead, or commissions, or money, and people went about trading things for other things, or sometimes favors for other favors, and they worked only when they needed something or when they felt like it... (138-139).

Orgaz y Orgaz himself is described as a "world-renowned fabulist who, rumor had it, was soon to be nominated for an internationally prestigious literary prize; an extraordinary man of letters, the first from the New World to achieve an international reputation on a par with that of the many very superior writers of Europe..."  Allusions to other writers abound in Pineda's parodic novel: there is even a salon scene in which Ana is stifled by the stuffy air of literary conversation the way Woolf's Orlando is by the wisdom of 18th century English male writers.  Ana has "trouble breathing" while listening to "the matinee idol novelist and perennial presidential also-ran, Vacio-Llares" (59), a reference to Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa though here his name could be translated "empty pot-hanger" according to Cassell's Spanish Dictionary.[30]  Though the novel is filled with moments of magical realism, their mystical attraction is often comically deflated.  Such is the case when the famous Orgaz sends flowers to Ana, phallic flowers "a lion tamer might favor."  He sends so many that "the bees began arriving," in an "invasion" that rivals the storms of butterflies in Cien Anos.  It is just one of what Pineda in a comment surely meant for the devotees of Garcia Marquez's style, offhandedly refers to as "another in a long and tiresome string of miracles" (123).  Later in the novel, Clemencia begins to ascend into the air like Garcia Marquez's famous Remedios the Beauty.  In Pineda, however, she hovers below the ceiling and her servant has to feed her "by extending a pole to which she had affixed a fork" (165). After the floating woman manages to kick out the window casement, and the wind catches her, she is blown upward "over the rooftops" like the "Very Old Man with Enormous Wings."  Somehow the majestic and miraculous beauty of Remedios's death is reduced here to a merely awkward and humorous incident.  She floats because she is too nostalgic and her ascent is no more than "an embarrassing abnormality of her behavior" (144).   Pineda's parody usually revolves around gender and it is Orgaz's belief that history is all about great men which comes under fiercest attack.  Though he gets his subject matter and creative impulse from women (specifically his madam wife and her bordello downstairs) while he hides like Willa Cather's professor in a locked room above it all, detached, he really only wants the "fame, and considerable fortune, which might even place him in line for international acclaim and the coveted "gunpowder prize" (150).

            At one point, Federico Orgaz y Orgaz reads a section of his dialogue in which three Cardinals (Cardinal Gorgonzola, Cardinal Provolone, and Cardinal Parmigiano) discuss what is to be done with the "succubus" madam in the Amazon.  Pineda is mimicking Garcia Marquez's humorous attacks on organized churches, something found elsewhere among Latino writers.  Tomas Rivera portrays Protestant priests who arrive to teachthe poor migrant farmers carpentry and wind up teaching them nothing. In fact they don't even come out of their trailer (107).  The scene (which echoes one in Chronicle of a Death Foretold where the bishop bypasses a Colombian town despite the day's festivities in his honor) is central to Rivera's novel because it lies between (and separates) the key chapters in which the narrator's religious doubt is confirmed and he is, as Ramon Saldivar's argues, liberated from passive acceptance of his lowly state in life.  Recognizing that the earth will not devour him, he can curse God and resolve "not to believe and hence not to be bought and sold like an animal or like the fields that he works" (Saldivar 85).    

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      One further example may sufficiently demonstrate the benefits of examining Latino fiction with one eye cast toward the work of Garcia Marquez.  The central matriarch of Arturo Islas's The Rain God is named Mama Chona, but she instructs her kin to call her Mama Grande.  Two pages into his novel, Islas is here surely alluding to the well known story "Big Mama's Funeral," and the effect is to immediately instill in the reader a sense of doubt concerning Mama Chona, Encarnacion Olmeca de Angel, and the authority she represents.  The Garcia Marquez story mocks everything Mama Chona stands for and celebrates all the extremes of life that she rejects.  The carnival of the funeral -- Big mama's "monumental buttocks," her last final "loud belch" (192) -- counters Mama Chona's desires of perfect Catholic spirituality, her obsession with avoiding "impurity."  The oral nature of the narrative (a sort of carnival barker hyperbole), counteracts Mama Chona's preference for the formal, written Castillian Spanish which in the story becomes mere "words, words, words," or "historic blahblahblah" (195).  Her preference for " Teotihuacan pyramids" (Rain God 27) gives way to the clamorous noise of festival and noise.  With Garcia Marquez in mind, Islas opens his novel by suggesting the death of the matronly Catholic traditions embodied in Mama Chona.  Islas wishes to foreshadow how the authoritarian rules and rigid moral codes the woman endorses will be undermined by later events in the story.  The Garcia Marquez story is about power and Islas's novel will go on to question the matriarch's power over her complicated family. 

      The mark of Garcia Marquez's narrative craftsmanship on Latino writers extends beyond allusion. We find, for example, the use of extensive and involved family genealogies (certainly something Garcia Marquez learned from Faulkner), in writers as different as Oscar Hijuelos and Arturo Islas.  This repetition of family names relates to the notions of cyclical time, of the inheritance of patriarchal power and incestual decay -- ideas that tie Hawthorne's "sins of the father" themes to Faulkner, to Garcia Marquez to Islas.  In Latino fiction, especially Chicano, family trees carry Catholic guilt and an obsession with the dead.        

            Roberta Fernandez's Intaglia is strengthened by such a technique, not only because, as in Faulkner, extended family trees allow characters to stretch beyond the boundaries of their fictional communities (individual stories or novels), nor, as Robolledo and Rivero explain, because the family names document the existence of marginal lives and cultures, and compel the reader to sense a Latino "cultural memory" (18), but also because the linking together of family members and the prioritizing of each female member's contribution and connection is both the central job of the reader and the essential reason for the protagonist's (Nenita's) maturity.  As we tie the family together, so does Nenita tie herself to her past and her heritage, finding in her glimpses of family the continuity she needs to confront the challenges in her life.   In Candelaria, in Martinez, and in Islas, the repetition of paternal family names -- the names like Jose Rafa, Miguel Velasquez, and Miguel Angel are passed down through Admissions Essay Helptwo, even three generations -- and one is reminded of the Buendia family line which in turn carries echoes of the Compsons, the Sartoris's, the McCaslins and the Snopes.   Certain particular parallels are even more exact, as is true for Martinez's Miguel Velasquez's soldier grandfather who bears a resemblance to Garcia Marquez's mythic hero Colonel Aureliano Buendia, himself an echo of Colonel Sartoris astride his mythic horse, Jupiter in The Unvanquished.  As with the Fernandez novel, the reader's attention in these works is focused upon the generational conflicts of family heritage.  As in Faulkner's novels, family name relates to class, reputation and identity, and with Latinos family is especially vital.  Echoing a stereotypical sentiment, one Dagoberto Gilb character remarks: "Wanting to be with your family is as Mexican as having babies" (213).[31]           

            William Faulkner's novels are in part responsible for the coming together of U.S. and Latin American Literature in 20th Century Latino fiction.  Like Poe's work in the 1800's, Faulkner's impact on writing extended beyond the boundaries of North America.  His influence on Garcia Marquez has been documented in numerous studies[32] and the extent of his literary prominence goes far beyond the purpose of this study.  Nevertheless, there is a need to establish the link with Latino literature and Faulkner, not for the purpose of regaling the old master but rather for demonstrating how modernist Latino prose synthesizes U.S. and Latin American narrative influences.  As discussed earlier, modernist narrative strategies from Latin America and from Europe combined to allow Latino writers a certain flexibility in portraying their worlds.  Faulkner's works would serve as models, particularly for alternative, fragmented perspectives of life in the U.S.  Yet Latino fiction is closer to Faulkner's writing than in mere structural design.  This can be evidenced by noting similarities of imagery and connecting the thematic issues certain images suggest.  Though numerous equally interesting facets of Faulkner's imagery would suffice, let's take, for instance, his use of "dust."   usually, dust in Faulkner implies the decay of society, of wealth, of tradition, and of moral codes of conduct as in the story "Dry September."  The image resurfaces in the "dead village" (6) of Comala in Rulfo's Pedro Paramo, and in Garcia Marquez's Colombian coastal streets.   Examining "dust" therefore brings forth a rich comparison between Jefferson, Comala and Macondo (one that might include tyrants like Pedro Paramo and his similarities to Sutpen, or to the dying Patriarch; or one centering upon incest like the couple in Rulfo's novel).  Tracing these similarities, extensive as such an exercise might be, would point critics eventually toward Latino works, and at the same time establish the salient interaction of influence shaping Latino fiction.  We see the dust in Pineda's comic portrayal of decaying oligarchy in the "house of Orgaz, the most illustrious -- and dusty -- family of all."  Come spring, "the prestige of each house could be gauged by the volume of dust raised by the vehicle" that the "great houses still chose to affect" in the streets of Malyerba (Love Queen 21) while peasants ("The common people were about, but they are always about in any case, and deserve no great attention here." - 22), avoid the "dusty onslaught" of wealth and power.  In Islas's The Rain God, characters fight the "pestilential dust" of the desert (162) which traps old people in their beds (148), buries kitchens (57), and fills the eyes of the dying (48). "Romantic dreams" vanish into the desert evening" (56).  Judith Cofer writes about a lifeless Puerto Rican town known as "El Polvor?" [the "dustdevil"] coming alive during carnival (Line 106).  For Anaya, there is mythical evil in summer dust storms of the llano: "The dust devils of the llano are numerous. They come from nowhere, made by the heat of hell they carry with them the evil spirit of a devil..." (Bless Me, Ultima 51).  Faulkner's imagery stresses how the dust of decay absorbs the "eternal verities," the principles of the Ante-bellum south, and leaves a world of connivers and materialists, a wasteland void of tradition.  For Chicanos, the western sand becomes an image of hopelessness and the Latino's futility in trying to regain the golden age of Aztlan, and the purity of times prior to Western contamination. 

        Faulkner's sense of deterioration carries into Chicano fiction as writers watch a consumer driven society eat away at ethnic traditions.  Hawkshaw's attempt in "Dry September" to rescue the innocent black man from a gang of KKK murderers fails when he jumps from the car and the car is "swallowed" by the dust (74).  Often the superficiality of North American culture  threatens and even swallows the native traditions of the rural Chicano (and of all immigrant groups), in much the same way.   This, in part, accounts for the multiple versions in Latino fiction of Faulkner's famous character, Emily Grierson or variations of her like Rosa Coldfield and Joanna Burden.  She stands for people who cannot cope with the overwhelming practical need to change opinions and beliefs.  We see her type in the unnamed woman narrator in Garcia Marquez's story "Bitterness for Three Strangers" or in Rebeca of One Hundred Years of Solitude and even in the patriarch of Autumn of the Patriarch.   Pineda's Andreina is like Emily, concerned with societal position over all, and "mummified in her flannel nightgown" (Love Queen 38).  So too is the elderly "Senhora" who gives Helio a job in her garden in Face.  He imagines her and her sisters "in their starched lace, eternally propped in their straight-backed chairs, waiting there for a suitor who had never come" (141-143).  A grandmother living in a bedroom "filled with her past" (Flowers 125) in the story "The Idol Worshippers" by Saenz declares that "Reputations always matter" (140).  Mrs. Renter? in Arias's Road wants to sleep with the attractive corpse of David, a "mojado" found in a dry riverbed.  For Latino writers, Emily is a 20th century parallel to an older tradition of the woman who lives by rules and codes no longer applicable.  Rolando Hinojoso has noted the parallels between Faulkner's Civil War and the Mexican Revolution's importance to the rural Chicano's modern world (Hernandez  86).  Where the Civil War has dislocated Faulkner's southern high society ladies, the status of exile or cultural disruption has uprooted and marred certain elements of the Latino character.  Nearly archetypal, this figure of the lonely, older woman bent on maintaining an obsolete tradition in the face of modern times occurs frequently.  Islas's matriarch, Mama Chona, carries a strong allegiance to a rigid  Roman Catholic purity, advocating "pure bodiless intellect. No shit, no piss, no blood -- a perfect astronaut" (8, 164).  She struggles in vain to uphold the family name of Angel, preaching a "Spanish conquistador snobbery that refused to associate itself with anything Mexican or Indian because it was somehow impure" (27).  This "highborn Spanish" woman now living in Mexico (141) is fossilized in her beliefs, and claiming that "angels" are "better than the illiterate riffraff from across the river" (15), that Castillian Spanish is better than Mexican.  Faulkner's emphasis upon the futility of the struggle to maintain a dying tradition, and upon the consequences of miscegenation and sexual taboos has obvious relevance to recent fiction in general and the frequent allusions to his writing among writers like Pineda, Islas, or Arias attests to that fact. 

            If Faulkner's dust imagery can so easily lead to the heart of his writing, it is because he focused intensely upon the problems of U.S. society in all its misshappened manifestations, and the dysfunctional, marginal family became for him a microcosm of larger societal decline, a movement from slow, solid order toward speed and fragmentation.  Garcia Marquez saw a similar decaying of old world order in coastal Colombia following the departure of The United Fruit Company, and he populated his town with characters bearing striking similarities to those of Faulkner's.  Faulkner's "community building," his creation of Jefferson and its "myriad" inhabitants helped him convey this sense of loss, change and deterioration by centering his focus upon people coping with such destructive environments.  As with Garcia Marquez, such a narrative, structural framework accommodates an exploration into fringe communities of people whose lives have been previously neglected by recorded history.  William Kennedy's Albany novels or the works of Carolyn Chute demonstrate the potential of exploring the domains of the underclass, and many Latino writers have adapted this blueprint for their portrayals of Latino fringe dwellers --  those in barrios (i.e. Mango Street or East LA),  in rural slums, in camps of migrant workers, in Prisons (as in Pinero's Short Eyes) or even in YMCA's (as in Gilb's novel).  

            Faulkner's family motifs of revenge, lineage, inheritance, betrayal and mysterious genealogy become examples for Latino writers exploring their own complicated communal heritages.  The problematic question of race explored in his works is increasingly a factor in Latino fiction as Latinos confront North American stereotypes and prejudice.  One thinks of the Cuban and Puerto Rican writers who, immediately upon arrival in the U.S., are categorized by anglos as blacks and discriminated against accordingly.  There is a Faulkner flavor in the story of Vernetta's past (a flashback within Vea's La Maravilla) which details the brutal murder of her black boyfriend by the KKK in Arkansas: "the evidence had to be preserved for an investigation that would lead nowhere and an arrest that would never be made" (129).  Vernetta (who had she been a boy would have been given the Snopsian name of "Vern"), escapes her house by sliding out the window like Caddy Compson.  Faulkner began to tell the stories of people of mixed Caribbean heritage as well as those descended from Native Americans (usually the Chickasaw Indians) and writers like Ana Castillo continue that tradition.  We see the thematic concerns he raised become the focal points in works by one Latino writer after another: racial and cultural prejudice in Viramontes and Pineda;  the trials of blue collar folks in Gilb and Saenz; the politics of cultural barriers in Mohr and Cofer, of sexual taboo and religious friction in Cisneros and Rechy, and of large societal change in Vea and Anaya.  

            The case can be made that Faulkner's influence upon Latino fiction overshadows that of any other 20th century North American novelist, and that Garcia Marquez rivals any other Latin American source of inspiration.  But to say this is hardly surprising since the two are directly related and both have had an impact on nearly all fiction of the Americas written over the last 60 to 70 years.  Latino writers owe their allegiances to a mixture of their influence and to various others as well.  We see for example the obvious debt owed to Julio Cortazar by Ana Castillo in her epistolary novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters.  Like Hopscotch, her novel forces the reader to actively construct his or her own text by choosing the order of the chapters.  Manuel Puig's dramatic movie summaries in Kiss of the Spider Woman have something in common with the vivid dream sequences in Martinez's Voice-Haunted Journey (50), not only in their style and content, but in the way they meander or, to use a phrase Martinez uses throughout his novel, "wend in and out" of the plot.  In a larger sense, this is an example of how storytelling, so vital to Faulkner and to Latin American writers shapes Latino fiction in which the oral tradition is privileged over the written.  Where historical records have distorted much of the Latino past, the Latino's unofficial folklore can only be recorded in the voices of storytellers.  Faulkner's example of a polyvocal literature that incorporates the folk tale, the exaggerated tall tale, and the spoken legend or myth serves as a reference point from which the Latino writer can document the voices of his or her own cultural past.   

            Some Latino writers fit neatly within a particular canonical sequence as is the case with Dagoberto Gilb. Gilb sometimes speaks with the cool objective authority of Hemingway.  A passage, for example, from "Winners on the Pass Line" echoes the analytical expertise of the Hemingway's narratives on Bullfighting. Here the subject is Craps:


Ray bet on her pass with certainty and when she had a point he took as many come and odds bets as he could get, and she shot lots numbers.  Sylvia let Ray's pass line money ride and made her point three more times in a row, which multiplied into winnings of four thousand dollars. (Magic 221).      

To the uninitiated outsider, only the amount of money won in the game makes sense, but, like Hemingway, Gilb obliges the reader to accept the minds of his protagonists on their own terms, unedited and undiluted by narrative judgment.  Hemingway's candid prose would serve Raymond Carver as a means of communicating without sentimentality the traumas of working class life, and Carver's subjects, in turn, would pave the way for Gilb's Chicano world in all its domestic and blue collar vitality.  From wars and bullfighting to alcohol and divorce to prejudice and construction work, the three writers form a generational chain of American male writers suggestive of this century's larger literary patterns of development from emphasizing Europe to the U.S. to Ethnic writing, from tough, to sympathetic male voices, from north to south, and from white Anglo-Saxons, to Latinos.


The writings of Rosario Castellanos have certainly had an impact upon Latina writers.  Her early novel Bal?-Can? [The Nine Guardians] and her first collection of short stories Ciudad Real [City of Kings] both concern the plight of Indians and women in the 1930's and 1940's in southern rural Mexico (where tensions still exist today) under the Presidency of Populist L?aro C?denas.  Castellanos's "Chiapas Cycle " (which also includes another novel Oficio de tinieblas [Office of Tenebrae] and another short story collection Los convidados de agosto [The Guests of August] constitutes her effort to portray the injustices committed against indigenous peoples ("the originals" Nine Guardians 180) and the complexities of race, class and gender among people, like herself, of mixed blood.  It is this interest, combined with the parallels she saw between the state of women and that of the Indians (Foster 417) that resonates in the works of the Chicana writers Anna Castillo and Sandra Cisneros, among others.  Her concern for the folk spirituality of storytelling Indian women becomes a central focus in Latino writing and the relationship between a young girl and her "Nana" in Nine Guardians, bears similarities to numerous Latino stories including curanderas and grandmothers.   Castellanos was one of the earliest post World War II, Latin American women to openly confront what some critics refer to as "Marianismo" [Marianism] or  "the idealization of female values, the Catholic cult of the Virgin Mother Mary" (Castro-Klar? 10-11).[33]   Her deconstruction of the ideal Virgin Mother previews how Chicana writers privilege "malinchismo" (from "La Malinche" or woman rebel, woman of power, traitor of men)[34] over institutionalized domestic roles for women.  Her indictment of the "domestic orbit" (in her poem "Foreign Woman") is mirrored in the one-dimensional feminist writings of Alma Villanueva.  The famous story, "Culinary Lesson," has many descendants, including "Snapshots," by Viramontes, where an older divorced woman, Olga, could be Castellanos's young housewife, years later.   Writers like Viramontes follow Castellanos's lead in revealing the restrictions of traditional gender roles and in attempting to give voice to women previously silent.   One can at least partially credit Castellanos for what Debra Castillo calls an "official unsilencing" of Latina thought occurring now as more and more Latino works are published (77).[35]  

            In addition to ideological ties between Latina writers and Castellanos's feminist work (which exist as well with other Mexican writers like Elena Garro and Elena Poniatowska), there is also an influence in craft.   Helena Viramontes's technique of what the critic Debra Castillo has called "unheard parallel monologues" owes something to Castellanos as well.  In The Nine Guardians, various characters speak to themselves in two to three page monologues.  The patron, Cesar, speechifies (190-192), planning strategy (171-174) while his wife Zoraida grouses over her social condition (87-90).  Mathilde fades into a romantic daydream (115), and the doomed Ernesto drunkenly rants to his Indian students (153-154) then later fantasizes a meeting with the president (196-199).  In each case, no one hears, or understands, what the monologues convey.  The speaker/dreamer is usually startled by interruption (someone asks a question, a bullet is fired).  These confessional passages serve to separate the protagonists from each other as each, in his own way, deteriorates toward selfishness and isolation, which in turn, reflects the disintegration of aristocratic classist society in the author's southern Mexico.  Viramontes borrows the technique for "Cariboo Cafe" where three individuals tell a story from three very distinct perspectives.  As in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, the multiple perspectives are never reconciled, and some, like Vardaman's or Darl's, or Ernesto's, or the Central American woman's, become incoherent lapses of people hovering between rationality and psychosis.   Viramontes's "The Long Reconciliation" displays a variation of this split point of view (reminiscent of Joyce's story "Boarding House").  Here the three protagonists: adulterous wife, husband and wealthy Patron -- whose memories and desires are revealed in fragments -- bare similarities to Castellanos's families with regard to the outside pressures of Mexican politics and class conflicts, their own inability to communicate with each other, and, perhaps more importantly for Viramontes, the incapacity of some women to survive once forced beyond traditional domestic patterns.   With the gossiping women from church condemning her infertility ("so young, so useless"  - 84), the wife, Amanda, rejects her role as mother, aborts her child and subsequently loses her husband's love.  The ironic "reconciliation" takes place only in Chato's mind,  58 years later while he lies dying in a Texas hospital.   

            It would be a mistake however to see Castellanos, or any other writer as any more influential or important to Pineda's or Viramontes's work than are the American and European writers who influenced Castellanos or most of her Latin American counterparts.  The chain of influence goes back as far as Cervantes and Chaucer, as Ed Vega's work makes clear.  In his parody of the Puerto Rican autobiographical novel (still the most common narrative genre for Puerto Rican writers), The Comeback, Vega employs conversational, explanatory prefaces and remarks in the tradition of Tom Jones  or Tristram Shandy, then summarizes chapters in the manner of Cervantes while his narrator meets face to face with Miguel de Unamuno.[36] 

            Interaction of European and Latin American influences in Latino fiction results in dramatic mixtures of subject and style, in a dynamic, hybrid quality which accents what Judith Cofer refers to as "cultural schizophrenia" (Line 171).  Some Latino writers reveal links of influence through allusions and others through style or content, and while Bejamin Alire Saenz is surely correct in condemning the judgment of the "indigenous peoples of the Americas by the poetic standards of English culture," the critic's exploration of influence upon Latino work can be rewarding as long as he or she is willing to look both east and south for the connections.  It is the mixtures of influence, from Joyce to "The Chronicles" or from Virginia Woolf to Juan Rulfo that fill Latino fiction with a unique energy and power where opposite cultures are meshed and languages combined, where magic is discovered in the real and celebrated without restraint.

[30]Pineda is not the only Latino writer to parody Vargas-Llosa.  Jorge Febles (1992) discusses the comical allusions to Vargas-Llosa's novel Who Killed Palomino Molero in Roberto G. Fern?dez's Raining Backwards.      

[31]Gilb is certainly aware that the somewhat stereotypical view that all Latino fiction displays some aspect of a strong familial bond is a view becoming increasingly unjustified.  Writers like Gilb (whose characters frequently come from dysfunctional families or broken homes) or Abraham Rodriguez, Jr. and Luis Alberto Urrea (both of whom depict urban life) should make critics at least question this rather general notion.   Rebolledo and Rivera in the introductory chapters of their anthology Infinite Divisions emphasize the importance of family to Chicana writers, which is surely true, but family is vital to most writers which makes pointing out general characteristics of Chicana mothers, daughters, sons and fathers (as Rebolledo and Rivera do) more or less irrelevant since the opposite characteristics are equally true somewhere else.     

[32]See Jose Luis Ramos Escobar's "Desde Yoknapatawpha a Macondo: Un estudio comparado de William Faulkner y Garcia Marquez," and Susan Snell's "William Faulkner, un gu? a la ficci? de Garcia Marquez." in Ana Maria Hernandez de Lopez's 1985 collection of critical articles En el punto de mira: Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Madrid: Editorial Pliegos.  See also Harley D. Oberhelmann's article "William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Two Nobel Laureates," in McMurray's Critical Essays on Gabriel Garcia Marquez: New Readings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987 and his book The Presence of William Faulkner in the Writings of Garcia Marquez. Lubbock: Texas Tech Press, 1980.

[33]See also Evelyn Stevens article "Marianismo, the Other Face of Machismo in Latin America" in Female and Male in Latin America, ed. Ann Pescatello (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973).

[34]See the following chapter for a further discussion of "La Malinche" and her importance to Latino fiction.

[35]In Talking Back, Castillo perceptively traces the "silent" characters in Viramontes's short story, "Cariboo Cafe" (77-95) in order to show how committed Latina writers narratively explore the worlds of people readers don't usually come in contact with, and it is this type of political, feminist focus that demonstrates the connection between Castellanos and Viramontes.  

[36]Nicolas Kanellos's discussion of Vega in Hispanic American Biographies (337-339).

Continue: Chapter 3 Part I



Last Updated:
July 25, 2011
Copyright 2006 design and content by John S. Christie and Jose B. Gonzalez
Copyright 2006 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc.
Copyright 2006 Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination, John S. Christie