In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

4 7 8 W e s t e r n A m e r ic a n l it e r a t u r e W i n t e r 2 0 0 6 the Mexican Revolution, the deportation of Mexican Americans during the Depression, the creation of the bracero program to bring Mexican workers to the United States during World War II, and finally the emergence of the Chicano Movement in the mid-1960s. Artist collectives again play a role in this history, with groups like Fresno’s Brocha del Valle and Sacramento’s Royal Chicano Air Force seeking to make “the Mexican population, especially the workers of this state, visible again” (78). In the final chapter of the book, “Contemporary Expressions,” Mark Johnson embarks upon a brief discussion of recent politics, new technology, and globalization. Here Johnson acknowledges the ironic stance of postmod­ ern art and the collapse of the optimism that marked the great moments of labor history in the 1930s and ’60s. An afterword by labor activist Tillie Olson reiterates the book’s idealistic theme—that unions (and art) expand human potentiality—and a timeline of California labor history brings the historical information in the five essays together into four concise pages. Art Work brings a rich and compelling body of California imagery to the attention ofscholars. It also prompted questions, and upon finishing the book, I wondered whether all the artists were really leftist heroes, romantically working against the capitalist power structure, and how the conjunction of art and labor might be written from outside the modernist paradigm of artistic triumphalism. The biases of class and race that kept early twentieth-century industrial and agricultural workers (women and minorities) from joining organizations like the American Federation ofLabor are acknowledged in the text; how, why, and when these biases were manifested and maintained by the art and by artists of the period makes another fascinating history. Everything I Have Is Blue: Short Fiction by Working-Class Men about More-or-Less Qay Life. Edited by Wendell Ricketts. San Francisco, Calif.: Suspect Thoughts Press, 2005. 248 pages, $16.95. Reviewed by Gerald Haslam, Professor Emeritus Sonoma State University, California The stereotype of affluent, swishy homosexuals has always ignored a large slice of reality. This book seeks to correct that because it’s not “Queer Eye for the Blue Collar Guy,” and most straight readers are apt to discover a new sexual world in this volume, while some gay readers might encounter an unfamiliar social scene. For those expansions of perception, we should be grateful to Wendell Ricketts for assembling this anthology. Both groups might be somewhat disappointed, too, since the selections are uneven in quality, and often the blue-collar is really blue. In John Gilgun’s “Cream,” for instance, a father is straight out of Archie Bunker: b o o k R e v ie w s 4 7 9 We continued eating. Then all of a sudden my brother said, “Hey! Who cut the cheese?” My father’s face clamped together like the head on a wrench and he said, “Don’t talk about things like that at the dinner table!” “But you farted!” “But we don’t talk about things like that when we’re eatin’.” “But how can we eat when you fart?” “Keep quiet about it. A man farts, he can’t help it. But it’s wrong to talk about it.” “It was a big smelly beer fart.” “I don’t care what kind of fart it was. Eat, don’t talk. No talkin’ at the dinner table.” “Should be no fartin’, too.” (84) If there is a persistent complaint about these selections, it is that they seem to present blue-collar existence with a low common denominator. Upward mobil­ ity, that grail for talisman of so many working-class people, is largely absent from these stories. Homoeroticism in this collection is presented in many guises, some crude, others tender, still others funny. Italian novelist Alfredo Ronci writes in “Good Friday,” When I arrived, Vittorio was scratching his ass. It was a gesture that he performed often and nearly convulsively, and the intensity of the movement was far from...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 478-479
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.