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B o o k R e v i e w s 309 one which emphasizes Leroy’s inability to come to terms with Yvonne’s early sex life and his vague doubts about the paternity of their first child. Outside of this time frame, three out of four chapters concentrate on the lives of the Upton family after they’ve moved to Northern California. Every fourth chap­ ter is dated and allows Leroy, still as first-person narrator, to describe significant events in his early life. By chapter 49, the last of Leroy’s autobiographical chap­ ters, he has brought his life to the point of his first date with Yvonne, an almost frantic sexual encounter. The remaining three chapters are, I’m sure, the most powerful writing Haslam has produced. He couldn’t have created anything more emotionally charged, more perfectly stated. The publicity statements about the novel suggest a comparison of Haslam’s realism with Steinbeck’s. In most respects, this novel is quite different, pri­ marily because of the first-person narration and the frequent linguistic crudi­ ties. In some respects, however, there is a striking similarity. In The Grapes of Wrath, there is one character who holds the family together through all its dif­ ficulties— Ma Joad. In Straight White Male, Haslam presents Yvonne Trumaine Upton as a very contemporary middle-class wife who, despite her quite promis­ cuous (for the times) past, is a working mother of three children, a nurse to her husband’s increasingly ill parents, and the provider of emotional and physical support for her husband. After a year or two of politicians shouting about “family values” without defining them, it is refreshing, even invigorating, to find a novel that makes such values clear and certainly not simplistic. This is a novel about the debil­ itating effect of, as well as the satisfaction from living by, those values. It is also more than that. It’s a novel about the worth of education, the necessity for the distribution of different kinds of love— for friends, parents, children, and the spouses at the center. This is a novel about the education of the narrator, and a tribute to the sensitivity of the good woman who educates him. Rudolfo A. Anaya: A Critical Companion. By Margarite Fernandez Olmos. W estport, C o n n .: G reenw ood Press, 1999. 176 pages, $29.99. Reviewed by Peter McCormick N orthern Arizona U niversity When Rudolfo Anaya’s name is mentioned among Southwest enthusiasts or within literary circles, his first novel, Bless Me Ultima (1972), likely domi­ nates conversation. This story of a young boy, Antonio, coming of age in the magic-imbued land of eastern New Mexico has been earmarked as one of the most important, if not the most highly regarded, Chicano novels. But to those who have read and learned to appreciate most or all of Anaya’s seven novels, poems, and essays, Ultima is only the first of a series of texts that have come to define much about the New Mexico landscape and the people who call it home. 310 WAL 36.3 FALL 2001 Unfortunately, most of the attention given to Anaya has come only as praise and criticism of Ultima. Not until recently has his work been strongly considered as more than Chicano literature. It is slowly becoming part of the new American studies and integral to the study of American literature in insti­ tutions other than the university. Margarite Fernandez Olmos’s Rudolfo A. Anaya, a fairly straightforward review of Anaya’s life and contributions to lit­ erature, is the first attempt to aid instructors and younger students in uncover­ ing the importance of his work. Fernandez Olmos offers introductory chapters on Anaya’s life and the Chicano literary tradition. She then guides the reader through each of Anaya’s seven novels, systematically analyzing each novel’s point of view, plot devel­ opment, language, narrative strategies, and symbolism. She emphasizes several tenets of Anaya’s work, including the reappearance of specific characters and themes, the use of myth and allegory, and the geographical setting for each novel. The book should not be considered original scholarly inquiry, but rather...


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pp. 309-310
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