Soledad en masa


with 8 comments

I just finished reading Gustavo Arellano’s ¡Ask a Mexican! and now I am lost as to what I should read next. This summer, I have read Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Páramo & El Llano en llamas, numerous essays on Mexican music, and, as a short break from Spanish, V for Vendetta. I want to continue the trend I started earlier this summer of reading books and essays about México by reading all the essays I’ve yet to read, including one on the speech patterns of Los Altos de Jalisco (i.e. my family!).

I get tired of essays quickly and they’re often finished in a few minutes. I’m itching to read books, important ones. To keep with the look at México, I ordered Vasconcelos’ La raza cósmica and Mariano Azuela’s Los de abajo and should receive them this coming week. I own Octavio Paz’s El laberinto de la soledad, but I want to read these three in chronological order to see how the arguments progress as the works use previous arguments. After reading these, I want to read another classic of México, Carlos Fuentes’ La muerte de Artemio Cruz (last time I attempted to read it, I left it after one chapter because the narration was too confusing). The more and more I read, the closer I feel to reaching an area of study for college and a way to bring order to my academic life.

On the other hand, I have City of Quartz and My Blue Heaven in front of me, waiting to be read and enjoyed. I’m hesitant to read them because I’ll most likely find courses at Harvard that require me to read them, but then again, I just want to read and write about Los Angeles and its “suburbs” (or as I call South Gate, urban suburb, since South Gate is no longer an industrial suburb). Seriously, that’s the only reason I entertain the idea to transfer to UCLA, just so I can take many courses focused on L.A. while living in it.

Any advice?


Written by soledadenmasa

July 19, 2008 at 12:39 am

Posted in Books, Random, South Gate, Summer

8 Responses

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  1. I don’t know if you’re aware of these, but the graphic novels by Jessica Abel in the “La Perdida” series might be a good escape, while still staying on track of your intended curriculum.
    Here’s a link


    July 19, 2008 at 12:55 am

  2. Read books by my cousin! lol

    Marco Antonio Landavazo. He’s a historian at the university of Michoacan in San Nicolas de Hidalgo… He’s lectured at UCLA and Harvard. His best work is “La Mascara De Fernando VII” it was his doctorate thesis. Good stuff on Mexico’s history…


    July 19, 2008 at 6:47 am

  3. Good to hear from you, Diego! And good call on “La Perdida”, Chavo. On the comics front, I would add anything by Los Bros. Hernandez, Chicanos from Oxnard mixing up punk rock, sci-fi, magical realism, and Chicano/Latino life. I’m more partial to Xaime myself and am gradually plugging away at “Maggie the Mechanic”.

    Take or leave what you’d like from what follows:

    [Added by Diego] Samuel Ramos “Perfil del hombre y la cultura en mexico”. It’s part of the background that Octavio Paz is responding to in “Laberinto”; short, and full of interesting psychological generalities about Mexican life and culture.[/]

    On Mexican literature, I would say Elena Poniatowska and Carlos Monsivais, but I’d be doing so not having read too much of them. But they’re essential reading for writing coming out of the 60s and 70s, and are on my reading list. So is Sergio Pitol, who was an influence on the guys I’m about to tell you about.

    I was strongly attracted by la generacion ‘crack’, of the mid-90s, and their short manifesto (google ‘manifiesto crack’), which is a literary mind-stimulant. They long for literary ‘churrascos’ while others can have albondigas and bistecs. Ambitious, and the works by the manifesto’s authors have rocked pretty hard. But their narrative can be tough to follow sometimes. I enjoyed, “Fernanda y Los Mundos Secretos” by Ricardo Chavez Castaneda, a book for teens that I picked up when I was last in Mexico City, and is delightful as all get out. Full of carino. “Si Volviesen Sus Majestades” by Ignacio Padilla, which is dense, complicated, and disturbing, but it’s short and entirely worth the effort.


    July 19, 2008 at 8:00 am

  4. I’ve been planning to read “Americanos: Latin America’s Struggle for Independence “ by John Chasteen for some time now. Looks interesting. Here is a review of the book by an economist.


    July 20, 2008 at 10:06 pm

  5. Can you access the syllabuses for classes focused on LA? That way you could read about the city and people of color for fun. I really liked George J. Sanchez’s Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945 .


    July 22, 2008 at 11:10 am

  6. How was Ask a Mexican? The one on speech patterns in Jalisco sounds interesting too. What’s the title?

    City of Quartz is good, and I liked Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles by Eric Avila.

    I need to read way more spanish books antes de que se me olvide.

    Chicana Skies

    July 28, 2008 at 5:45 pm

  7. Thank you everyone for the recommendations! Most of the suggested books are on my list to read!

    Guess what I’m reading over Winter Break? Thanks for the link!

    Naw, I’m not too interested in books that go that far into Mexico’s past.

    Poniatowska’s Noche de Tlatelolco and other books are on my list, but only after Laberinto de la soledad. Since this year is the 40th Anniversary of la masacre en Tlatelolco, I’m keeping my eye out on a course on that this year. In the vein of more modern literature from Mexico, I want to read El vampiro de la colonia Roma.

    That’s plane reading for me, maybe.

    I can try, but I’d rather look at what courses are offered next year and take them. I might have to create my own major and I’d employ that book you mentioned, but that’s after I read Occupied America.

    Ask a Mexican is funny, really easy to get through. I don’t have the name of the essay on Jalisco speech patters, sorry.

    I read parts of Avila’s book for an essay I wrote for a class last year. I didn’t have time to read it all, but the chapters I read were pretty good.


    July 28, 2008 at 11:04 pm

  8. “The Rise of the Creative Class” by Richard Florida is interesting in understanding the modern shaping of cities and people of our generation…particularly as Los Angeles becomes vertical. You will see some of the connections on the themes you blog about, particularly the concept of the “end of industrial” suburbs which you hint at.

    You mention City of Quartz, which is a popular book but very dramatic…and some of Davis’ sources are questionable. Quite frankly, you’re smarter than that and would get more from deeper layers of analysis and narrative. Davis is too simplified, but still a cute book.

    I recommend you read
    “The Reluctant Metropolis” by William Fulton.
    Dude lays it down as far as the shaping of Los Angeles city-region…on the issues that are now coming to fruit…the unchecked growth, public transit, the water fights. Davis will tell you the classic story, ‘rich man stills water rights.” Fulton will give provide you with a view into the future (now) and what it means.

    He has a really good chapter on Southeast Los Angeles (e.g. Huntington Park), which I think is your neighborhood. He just KNOWS LA, from the history to the city building/planning process. He doesn’t dwell on on the annoying post-modernist type junk (and every other literary type book on LA) …yet it reads like a memoir. he knows la..lives n breathes, and didn’t flee it like davis did.


    July 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm

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