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Sam Adams’ Freedom Fighters a Novel of the American Revolution by OTTO MULLINAX The freedom-fighter of the American Revolution, as the ‘principal character of this novel, develops swiftly but accurately around the lives of William Mollineaux, one of San Adams’ Lieutenants in Boston, and his nephew J.J. J.J. diligently searches for Laurie Aldrich, a Quaker mistress to Major Percy of General Gages’ British Forces. She is also the dream girl of J.J.’s boyhood infatuation. His quest, kidnapping, and flight with Laurie to the Carolinas is a romantic backdrop to that revolutionary history and the battle of Kings Mountainthe critical battle of the revolutionary war which resulted in Cornwallis’ retreat through North Carolina into Virginia and surrenderending the war. The history of that time is told in faithful detail, since the Revolution itself is the principal character. FUTURA PRESS P.O. BOX 17427 AUSTIN, TX 78760-7427 taion oliwa Rowiie Pla.te-f 250 pps. Paperback $12.95 incl. tax & shipping A Modem Near on the Border BY BARBARA BELEJACK DIARY OF AN UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT. Ramon “Tianguis” Perez. Translated by Dick J. Reavis. 1991, Arte Publico Press, Houston. THE LAST TIME WE RAN into Ramon Perez, he was ,working as an ‘ ambulatory photographer and “shamefacedly” marching with his union contingent in the May Day parade in Jalapa, Veracruz. In the words of the Texas journalist Dick Reavis, the former guerrilla from Macuiltianguis, Oaxaca, “was buckling under the weight of modern life.” Reavis had befriended Perez during one of his many travels to Mexico, and Perez’s life served as the connecting glue for a chapter of his book, Conversations with Moctezuma. Perez, nicknamed Tianguis, and his wife Maria Eugenia, or Mary, were the perfect examples of how skewed the Mexican economy has become and how difficult life is for an “average” couple. A skilled carpenter, he could make more money as a wandering photographer; Mary dropped out of graduate school to sell artesania. Reavis hinted that Perez had other talents. He wrote stories on a secondhand manual typewriter and read voraciously. But suddenly he’ stopped writing and talking of literature. The “rural rebel” had turned into the “urban man-on-the-street.” I’m happy to report that Perez is writing again. His first book, Diary of an Undocumented Immigrant, is a remarkably honest first-person account that belongs to the rich tradition of Latin American testimonial literature and our own oral history. It is alsO a promising sign of the Great American Novel of the ’90s Latin or otherwise which will increasingly deal with migration and be based on the stories of immigrants from the south, or as Perez would say, “mojados.” Except for the title, Perez refers to himself and his fellow immigrants in El Norte as “wets.” “You could even say we’re a village of wetbacks,” he says of Macuiltianguis, a Zapotec village in the Oaxacan sierra. For decades young people have been migrating, turning their homeland into a town of the very young and the very old, a kind of Zapotec Brigadoon that comes alive again during holidays and festivals. “It’s a village tradition,” writes Perez. “A lot of people, nearly the ma Barbara Belejackis the Observer’ s Mexico City correspondent. 20 OCTOBER 18, 1991 jority have gone, come back, and returned to the country of the north. Almost all of them have held in their fingers the famous green bills that have jokingly been called ‘green cards’ … our people have spread out like the roots of a tree under the earth, looking for sustenance.” And so one morning Ramon Perez does the same, leaving his village with his small vinyl suitcase to walk the eight kilometers to the Panamerican highway and board the first of a series of buses that will take him to Nuevo Laredo. In the men’s room of the Nuevo Laredo bus station he meets up with an associate of one Juan Serna, coyote extraordinaire, who assures him that this is his lucky day. The surly Serna has palanca, or pull, with the police. As Perez explains, “To avoid being stopped by the police, I have to keep company with thieves and maybe murderers, who oddly enough, enjoy police protection.” But palanca only goes so far. Perez is robbed before he gets out of Nuevo Laredo and his first attempt at crossing is foiled by the INS somewhere on a lonely Texas highway. A second attempt via a rubber tube over another part of the Rio Grande is successful and the diary turns into a long litany of Texas towns, the “world of machines and buildings” of downtown L.A. and the backroads and open fields of California and Oregon. Perez finds work with a green grocer, print shop, carpentry shop, car wash, vineyard and Chinese restaurant. Among his fellow travelers are a Peruvian fleeing the madness of a nation on the verge of collapse; a prosperous native of Chihuahua, whose material . success in the United States is tempered by the knowledge that he has lost his children to the drug culture; a Salvadoran teenager raped by her coyote; a man with white hair, who tells a hair-raising story about an encounter with a mammoth snake on a Lubbock ranch; and an uncle in Los Angeles who knows enough to leave his children .at home. The flip side of this encounter of two worlds are the ambivalent Chicanos; the willing gringas who promise him the time of his life at the mention of the words “Maria Sabinas,” “mushrooms,” “Oaxaca;” the Dallas punk club where coked-out young women pour cream on each other in the rest room, oblivious to Perez; the gay bar “just one of the many surprises the United States has for us;” the heavy metal concert where the spectators raise their fists in the air “in a way that I had only seen in political demonstrations in in Oaxaca;” labor force double the going rates for ordinary tools. Througholit, Perez subtly compares his two worlds and forces us to do the same: the havea-nice-day Merry Christmas of the department store clerk versus the holiday festivals of Macuiltianguis; the apprehensive parents who follow their children around for Halloween trick-or-treat \(“they fear someone is going to poison them,” his landlady observes, “there are people who are sick in the head who’ve put poison or pins in the candies…all of a sudden there are crazy people all over the Macuiltianguis who set up Day of the Dead altars with flowers, bananas, mexcal, tortillas, mole, tamales, cookies, soft drinks and homemade bread; Colonel Sanders versus homemade soup; the elaborate tools of a San Antonio carpentry shop versus the simple tools of his village. When Perez spots an ancient plane hanging as a decoration in the secretary’s office he wonders if he also might “seem like an antique to them.” Despite imminent passage of an immigration reform law, Perez is not much tempted to