portraying him as a repetitive, one-note writer who is unable to produce a collection with more essential variety. But exactly that does happen in this volume, as some of the stories build on similar plots or reiterate the same information on rail-riding and the intricacies of jailhouse etiquette. And, though I enjoyed Drew’ s lowkey, readable biography, Nelson Algren: A Life on the Wild Side \(published in 1989 found myself questioning the value of her introduction to this gathering. She provides the needed biographical context to go along with the “pieces,” but she also suffers from more than a touch of myopia in the interpretation department. For instance, I had problems with her reading of the aforementioned very early story, “Lest the Traplock Click,” the book’s opener. The story is a lyrical little tour de force that concludes with a scary metaphysical leap. A naive college-boy hobo, raving while trapped alone inside a refrigerated boxcar, slips before his probable death into a vision of his safe room back in a middleclass home; the vision \(or is he home at fellow bum only a day earlier. Drew sees the narrative as an uneven, albeit interesting, apprentice work marked by experimentation the author would soon abandon. Yet in such a quick dismissal, she fails to appreciate how herein may lie the seed of the famous hallucinatory sequences of Algren’ s acknowledged masterpiece about the addiction of a certain Frankie Machine, “the man with the golden arm.” All of which is to say, if you want to read or reread some Algren, and you should, there are better presentations of itsimply enough, the way it originally appeared, in the other books by him mentioned so far. Much of the work has been reissued recently in paper by two small and daring New York houses, Four Walls Eight Windows and Thunder’s Mouth Press. I suppose that most important is that this entire demonstration of contemporary interest in Algren from publishers provides the ultimate testament to the achievement of a writer who took up the cause of what so proudly used to be called the proletariat, a writer who did it without preaching. Because even in these times of faceless multinational corporations and the ongoing, mind-deadening celebration of a Life of Glitz with which the media bombards us, there remains enough of a demand for everything by Algren \(a demand stemming publishers will indeed not only make every effort to keep him in print but also go as far as struggle to repackage the old material in new ways. In this case, the legend and the writing BY STEVEN G. KELLIVIAN DAUGHTERS OF THE FIFTH SUN: A Collection of Latina Fiction and Poetry. Edited by Bryce Milligan, Mary Guerrero Milligan, and Angela de Hoyos. Riverhead Books/G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995. 284 pages. $23.95. DA UGHTERS OF THE FIFTH SUN is an anthology that vaunts its own advent as much as the character of its contents. “The book you are about to read is unique,” declares the Introduction, echoing the proclamation that opens JeanJacques Rousseau’s Confessions: “I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence.” What makes this collection unlike most other existing ones is the distinctive combination of gender and ethnicity that identifies its authors. All are “Latinas,” North American women from a Romance-language background. Published by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Putnam, Daughters of the Fifth Sun is, contends its editors, “the first anthology of Latina writing to be issued by one of the `major New York publishing houses.’ Lillian Castillo-Speed’s Latina: Women’s Voices from the Borderlands few weeks. However, both books announce the arrival of Latina literature into the mainstream marketplace. From seventeenth-century Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz to contemporaries Isabel Allende, Elena Poniatowska, and Luisa Valenzuela, women have been breaching the canon of Latin American literature. Laura Esquivel’ s Como agua para chocolate has been one of Mexico’s most successful exports. But in the United States, local Latinas have lagged behind Latinos such as Tomas Rivera, Rodolfo Anaya, and Oscar Hijuelos in gaining public recognition. Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros, and Rosario Ferre, among others represented in Daughters of the Fifth Sun, are now beginning to be known beyond the barrios of academe and small presses, by readers indifferent to the difference between a chalupa and a burrito. When Alvarez, Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Steven Kellman is the Ashbel Smith Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Texas, San Antonio. NIVIA GONZALEZ, FROM COVER Denise Chavez thought to call themselves “Las Girlfriends,” they in fact devised a marketing ploy unavailable to, say, isolated Lutheran men, that makes it advantageous to be a Latina. This handsome volume offers an opportunity to make the acquaintance of others. Though editors Bryce Milligan, Mary Guerrero Milligan, and Angela de Hoyos deplore neglect of literary Latinas, they implicitly acknowledge that until recently there was little to neglect. They credit the rise of Chicano consciousness in the 1960s with the emergence of Latina writing. In her Foreword, public radio journalist Maria Hinojosa hails de Hoyos, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rosemary Catacalos, Alma Villaneuva, Castillo, and Cisneros as las madrinas, but Latina literature cannot be far beyond its infancy if its godmothers are still barely into middle age. However, attempting to uncover a more ancient tradition, the volume’s editors salute Marfa Amparo Ruiz de Burton, Lucy Parsons, Sara Estela Las Girlfriends Arrive Mainstream Publishers Discover Latina Literature THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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