Reading and Writing the Ambiente: Queer Sexualities in Latino, Latin American, and Spanish Culture (review)
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Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies 279 armonÃ-a que debe fluir natural e intensa para aclararlo y solucionarlo todo. (39) Concluyamos diciendo que estamos ante un lirismo que roma de la experiencia (biografÃ-a, memoria cultural, universo) el vino de una profunda introspección meditativa que crece en espacios de vida, por supuesto compartibles. Ambrosio Gallego Universidad de Barcelona Reading and Writing the Ambiente: Queer Sexualities in Latino, Latin American, and Spanish Culture University of Wisconsin Press, 2000 Edited By Susana Chávez-Silverman and Librada Hernández The burgeoning field of queer srudies has begun to expand into the investigative field of Hispanic culture only in rhe past ten years, at least with any meaningful contributions of critical inquiry and research. There is currently an extensive and constantly growing bibliography dealing wirh gay/lesbian issues within the varied cultural production of Hispano- and Lusophone countries. Reading and Writing the Ambiente is a fine example of the type of scholarship being produced. It also signals how important the research is while at che same time indicating how much there is yet to do, particularly when it comes to matters of theory, the production of definitions, and locating the paradigms of sexual identity. One of rhe essential problems facing scholars who artempt to apply Anglo-American and/or European queer theory to Latino, Latin American, and Spanish texts is that of cultural disconsonance. Notth American and European models often do noc translate well into the reality of Latino and Hispanic cultures. According to Robert Richmond Ellis, who writes the introduction for the volume, this is precisely what the conttibutots to Readingand Writing the Ambiente attempt to address in theii essays. Their purpose is ro bring queer theoiy to the Latino/ Hispanic lesbian and gay ambiente and to engage queer theory from the vantage point of the ambiente itself. (3) "En el ambiente," it is explained, "is an expression of lesbian and gay self-affiimation meaning 'in the environment'" (3). Ellis provides a succinct , knowledgeable and informative introduction to both gay/lesbian issues in Latino/Hispanic culture as well as to the volume itself, summarizing the gist of each essay. The volume is divided into four secrions and contains thirteen separate essays that cover the broad range of Hispanic and Latino culture amazingly well. The first part, tided "Reading the Slant: Daring ro Name," offers three insightful essays that point to the early beginnings of gender -bending, cross-dressing, and game-playing as evidenced in Spanish Golden Age texts by Maria de Zayas and Lope de Vega. In the third essay, coeditor Librada Hernández renders a sagacious queer reading of rhe literarure and life of nineteenth -century Cuban writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Part 2, "Si(gh)ting the Armario: Restoring Visibility," also consists of three essays that cogendy tackle rhe wriring of three of Latin America's mosr well known and revered aurhors: Mario Benedetti, Xaviei Villautrutia, and Gabriela Mistral . What makes this gtouping of essays so deliriously unruly is the critics' willingness to queer these literary icons and/or their texts. Robert Mckee Irwin's reading ofXavierVillaurrutia is an eloquent essay on the gay Mexican writer and the effects of "homosexual panic." Elizabeth Rosa Hoian, an expert on Mistral, provides a masterful inteipretation on the ambiguity inherent in both the author and her texts, which ultimately lead to readings of alternative identities. Pai13, "Locating Queet(s)," contains four essays, which are as diverse as they are intelleccually gratifying. Co-editot Susana Chávez-Silverman , who never disappoints her readers with her keen critical perspective or her enteitaining style, wiites on Chicana authors Sandra Cisneros and Alicia Gaspar de Alba focusing on rhe space of rhe 280 Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies border, or fronterótica. The second essay deals with the problematics of Cuban identity as put forth by performance arrists Carmelita Tropicana and Marga Gómez. David William Fostet analyzes how differenc groups have appropriated the iconic figure of Eva Perón within Argentine culture for distinct purposes. One such appropriation is the queer status of Evita within gay culture, specifically in the work of the exile playwright Copi. The final essay of this section...


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