Abstract

This essay examines Mary Castillo’s 2012 Lost in the Light and Alisa Valdes’s 2013 The Temptation of Demetrio Vigil, both Mexican American gothic romances. The characters of both novels traverse parts of what are usually called the West, but which Américo Paredes called Greater Mexico, a term that I adapt to show the often-suppressed presence of Mexican Americans throughout the region. In these novels each heroine’s close relationship with her ghostly protagonist—one a poor Mexican American liquor smuggler in the 1920s, the other a poor cholo gangbanger from the near present—reveals specificities and differences between regional experiences, especially those of working-class and poor Mexican Americans. Through the lens of gothic theory and critical regionalism, I consider the ways that specific Mexican American cultures are evoked through the plot elements of a popular genre like the gothic romance. I argue that the striking prevalence of scenes of Mexican American regional and ethnic poverty in what would seem to be “beach read” popular novels suggests that in the Mexican American gothic, the sense of anxiety and abjection requires uneasy scenes of Mexican American destitution and violence, scenes which function as the true heart of gothic fear and uncertainty for their heroines.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1512
Print ISSN
0039-3827
Pages
pp. 322-340
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-03
Open Access
No
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