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Smith read years ago about Scandinavian migrants traveling across America. Many of them, he said, froze to death. “It’s not original. I took it from that book because it was appropriate. Life is the assurance of death.” Hinojosa Smith employs several techniques news writing, straight exposition, dialogue and description to add variety and dimension to his stories. He also credits his second profession, teaching, with helping him tell a story in a new way. He is an English professor teaching creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin. “Writing and teaching complement each other. Teaching keeps your writing alive,” he said. “You don’t just work from old yellow notes. You sit down with blank paper and create. Novel, poem, short story. Teaching keeps your juices charged.” What starts in the classroom, Hinojosa Smith said, for the most part ends up in the classroom. His audience is university people interested in ‘ the Valley and in the Mexican-American heritage. “Mexican-American literature was introduced to schools in the early ’70s, and I think these people are devoted to it,” he said. This devotion is reinforced through his own dedication to his origin. Part Anglo, part Mexican, Hinojosa Smith commands a linguis tic background that mirrors his intense awareness of his beginnings in his writing. “It takes a certain strategy to move easily from one language to another. It takes creativity. Each one presents different facets of pleasure,” he said. “But, you can’t completely sever one language from the other, one background from the other. They are both essential parts of the Valley and essential parts of me.” Hinojosa Smith Pho to by Sa br in a Be rm ing ham assumes control of the story and narrative. Malacara, the strongest of Hinojosa’s Belken County characters, is an orphan, often playing Huck to his cousin Rafe Buenrostro’s Tom. Or perhaps Lazarillo is a more correct literary antecedent for Jehtf Malacara, as he appears in Klail City. For here we have Malacara, the orphan, living by pluck and luck, working as a goatherd on Celso Villaldn’s ranch or sweeping a Klail City barber shop. But true to the role of the plcaro, he often is on the road, much as he was in an earlier Hinojosa novel, when upon learning of the death of his mother he threw in with a carnival. Here he travels up and down Belken County in the company of Brother Toings “Lutheran believer [Wisconsin Synod] of sainted breast.” Imas is a Mexican whose grandparents left their home in Parras, Coahuila, fleeing the Mexican Revolution: ‘a family history not uncommon to many Texas-Mexicanos. The peculiar lilt and idiosyncratic quality of Imas’s Spanish derives from his tutors, an Anglo-Swedish couple who learned the language years earlier, working in Belken County. What goes around comes around, the author seems to be missionaries reinstruct Imas in his native tongue, and an equally foreign religion. And he returns to the Valley where he hires the young Malacara to help him sell Bibles at $3.00 a book. But the master-disciple roles, in short, are reversed and in the end it is Malacara who becomes the teacher. The two, we understand, are cut from different cloth and each will go his own way. Imas’s exit is not so cruel as Lazarillo’s blind master’s, positioned by his disciple squarely before a huge boulder then told to jump. But then he is hardly deserving of such an end. Imas leaves Jehii to walk across a field where the bite of a common “Valley rattler” will cost him one leg. For Malacara the future is better. He skirts the field and winds his way on to Austin and the state’s university, then back to Belken County where he will in one or another of these novels teach English before moving on to the bank to become a loan officer and vice president. What remains of the novel is given over to Rafe Buenrostro. If Jehtf Malacara is Hinojosa’s man of thought, Buenrostro is his man of action; defending his Mexicano turf at Klail High School, then on to Korea and home again to Belken County. In Korea, Buenrostro works on a -body recovery detail, removing dogtags from American soldiers floating in the cold current of one of Korea’s southbound rivers. Later, with Cayo Draz, also of Klail High School, he drives to the cemetery in Seoul to read the names of the dead off the temporary markers: “I remember it well because Cayo and I took and drank up a case of Blue Ribbon Beer between us. And now, of course, every time I look at a can of Blue Ribbon . . . ” Four of Buenrostro’s graduating classmates die in Korea and the reader is left to understand that the Rafe Buenrostro who returns to Klail City from Korea is different man than the one who left after graduation in 1950. \(And Korea was, for many Mexican Americans, the crucible in which a new consciousness was cooked. Most saw things differently when they returned from Korea and many of the generation of Malacara, Buenrostro, and Hinojosa, rode G.I. Bill education benefits on through university and into classrooms, boardrooms, and Readers looking for the larger farmworkers-versus-growers, and raza-contra-rinches battles that have defined so much of the Valley’s history won’t find them here. Hinojosa works in the miniaturist rather than the muralist tradition. Farmworkers are rendered small: nailing boards on the windows of their winter homes, recovering the bodies of acquaintances killed in an automobile accident in some remote state, wondering if there is money to spare from $11.00 carefully budgeted for gas to buy “some Velveeta for the trip,” driving another 500 miles to another migrant camp. And the Texas Rangers, rather than strong-arming farmworkers back into fields and sheds as they did in the 1967 La Casita Strike here are a part of the collective and individual memories: “He thought of the old ranch house and its Texas Ranger-burned-down-to-its-ashes church . . . The ashes were still there, fifty years later.” And this is not a work without flaw. At times, the small sketches of characters read too much like passages from Spoon River Anthology. And a few of the characters, like a campaigning Anglo sheriff, and particularly a young black THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21