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REVIEWS ungen. One might wonder, however, how authors like Chekhov or more recently Emesto Sabato, for instance, missed being included in this otherwise intriguing— were its retelling of stories not at times tediously repetitive—radiography of the mutually beneficial invasion of territories. Florin BerindeanuUniversity ofGeorgia WILLIAM LUIS. Dance Between Two Cultures: Latino Caribbean Literature Written in the UnitedStates. Nashville: Vanderbilt UP, 1997. xxii + 352 pp. With the rapid increase ofworks by Spanish American writers, the publication of Dance Between Two Cultures acknowledges a literary culture that had previously been somewhat marginalized. Drawing on the "metaphorical dance" between the cultures of Latinos and Anglo-Americans, William Luis identifies emerging patterns , tropes, and themes evident in Latino Caribbean literature that testify to the dynamic interplay oftextual referents. Arguably, the border crossings and displacements , both geographical and literary, experienced by these writers place them simultaneously within and beyond a postmodern as well as a postcolonial discourse. Unlike previous publications focused on a single aspect ofLatino literature, Luis integratively approaches works produced by Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican authors living in the United States and writing in English. His work thus adds an important dimension to a literary movement that is gaining recognition in American academic circles. Furthermore, his definition of Latino—"which reflects the lives ofthose born or raised in the United States" (x)—introduces a necessary distinction into the general term Hispanic; Luis applies Hispanic or Spanish American only to those born or educated in their country oforigin. Poems by authors ofCuban, Puerto Rican, and Dominican descent and narratives by Bernardo Vega, Piri Thomas, Oscar Hijuelos, Cristina García, and Julia Alvarez symbolize an outstanding feature of the book, which is the plurality of authors mentioned within the context ofa longer literary tradition. Writers such as Cirilo Villaverde, José Martí, and Gonzalo (Pachín) Marín of the nineteenth century , and in more recent periods Reinaldo Arenas, Pedro Juan Soto, and José Luis González, provide the framework for historically contextualizing contemporary authors. In his "Postmeditation," Luis states, "I propose a recontextualization ofthe past and present, that is, a reappropriation ofthe two, in which they are read separately and simultaneously as one, allowing the critic to understand more closely how one period (and its narrative) works in terms of the other" (287-88)—a type of reading that Dance Between Two Cultures exemplifies. Luis deftly maneuvers between primary texts and secondary sources to question assumptions about Latino Caribbean literature. While his book complements ideas proposed by critics such as Gustavo Pérez Firmai, Ilán Stavans, Juan Flores, and Julio Marzán, Luis takes these same critics to task in his own readings of their works. For instance, his reading ofJulio Marzán's The Spanish Roots ofWilliam Carlos Williams leads him to consider Williams "a precursor for Puerto Rican and Latino writers who attempt to navigate between Hispanic and North American cultures " (42). This consideration, in turn, serves to demonstrate an intertextualization ofLatino Caribbean literature within the context ofHispanic and U.S. literatures. Luis gives close readings of the works he deems most representative of the dance between the Latino minority culture and the dominant Anglo-American one. By examining the different and varying newspaper accounts ofthe robbery related Vol. 25 (2001): 184 ??? COHPAnATIST in Piri Thomas's Down These Mean Streets, Luis is able to contextualize it historically . "A close reading ofthese newspapers," he writes, "will show the literary liberties journalists incorporated into their writings, a theme that also relates to the factual or fictional elements in journalism and in Thomas's own writings" (135). First published in 1967, Down These Mean Streets had not previously been examined against the medium ofjournalistic reports. Luis's reading ofOscar Hijuelos's 77ie Mambo Kings Play Songs ofLove centers on a comparison ofthe English and Spanish versions ofthe lyrics to "Beautiful Maria ofMy Soul," a discussion which, while addressing problems oftranslation, also illustrates "the tension and mediation that take place when two cultures come together" (203). In a broader context, cultural translation displaces the central position ofthe dominant culture and shifts the power to the minority culture that can, in turn, incorporate "the other." In this case, it is the Anglo-American culture...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 184-185
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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