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Essay Reviews The Border: The Future of Post-Modernity. By Sergio Gomez Montero. Translated by Harry Polkinhorn. (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1994. 174 pages, $12.50.) Nailed to the Wound. By José Manuel Di Bella. (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1993. 162 pages, $12.50.) Permanent Work: Poems 1981-1992. By Gabriel Trujillo Munoz. (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1993. 96 pages, $12.50.) Women on the Road. . . . By Rosina Conde. (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1994. 146 pages, $12.50.) Fiction International 25. Edited by Harold Jaffe, with Rosina Conde, José Manuel Di Bella, Harry Polkinhorn, and Gabriel Trujillo Munoz. (San Diego: San Diego State University Press, 1994. 277 pages, $10.00.) Baja California is a land both beautiful and barren, a complex land­ scape of harsh desert, deserted beaches, hard-rock mountains, and fertile river valleys. It is a thousand-mile slice of Mexico cut off from the rest of the nation by the Sea of Cortez, a peninsula of Sonoran desert interrupted by mountain ranges and cut short by the Pacific Ocean. Baja California is a land of ancient tribes, of Eusebio Francisco Kino, of progress and pover­ ty. For some—for far too many—it is a neon strip of cheap bars and even cheaper life; a perverse cartoon land of honky tonks, hookers, drug smug­ glers, and drunken GIs... a no-holds-barred nighttown punctuated by spot­ lighted glimpses of illegals scrambling northward, hot and hard. For far too many in the United States, it is just another symbol of something to fear, to distrust, and even to hate. Anchored tightly to the United States at a border region in turmoil, Baja California has become a living metaphor for the conflict and consensus reshaping cultures on both sides of the border. 154 Western American Literature Given the cultural stereotypes that surround this region of the Mexican State, it is indeed fortunate that a literary movement begun in the 1960s continues to swell in Baja California, giving readers in both Mexico and the United States greater insight into a Mexican regional culture that so signif­ icantly influences our own. Further, it is particularly satisfying that the San Diego State University Press continues to play a major role in bringing out excellent works in translation, including the five impressive works listed above. Few readers of Western American Literature would argue against the notion that there is tremendous grace and beauty and artistic worth in the works of writers from every region of the United States. For example, there is certainly as much passion and poetry in a short story by Ohio’s Jack Matthews as one by California’s Gerald Haslam and vice versa. However, the truths that both of these writers reveal about the forces—social, cultur­ al, historical, and so forth—that shape both their respective homelands and their own lives and arts unquestionably make their fiction artistically and philosophically richer and more complex. Both can be viewed, in other words, in at least two contexts: U. S. writers and regional writers. Our nation’s diverse literary history, as multi-layered as it is, is nonetheless an artistic continuum in which the regional and the national are firmly linked. However, a similar case cannot be made for any two regional writers from Mexico, at least not according to Baja-based writer Sergio Gomez Montero, whose collection, The Border: The Future of Post-Modernity, is an excel­ lent starting point for examining the fiction from Baja California. Indeed, Montero unequivocally asserts that literary regionalism has been so greatly ignored in Mexico that “the construction of regional literary histories is an unavoidable and urgent task. Literary production in Mexico has been con­ stant and continuous not only in the center but also in all the regions of the country.” Consisting of fifteen thought-provoking essays, Montero’s book explores the “diverse themes whose common material of study is the cul­ ture and literature of the border between Mexico and the United States.” A much published academician, Montero is Director of the National University of Education in Mexicali, and the subjects of his essays range from language—“because it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 153-160
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
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