Chicano Sketches: Short Stories

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University of Arizona Press, Oct 1, 2004 - Fiction - 186 pages
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Mario Su‡rez will tell you: GarzaŐs Barber Shop is more than razors, scissors, and hair. It is where men, disgruntled at the vice of the rest of the world, come to get things off their chests. The lawbreakers come in to rub elbows with the sheriffŐs deputies. And when zoot-suiters come in for a trim, Garza puts on a bit of zoot talk and "hep-cats with the zootiest of them." A key figure in the foundation of Chicano literature, Mario Su‡rez (1923-1998) was among the first writers to focus not only on Chicano characters but also on the multicultural space in which they live, whether a Tucson barbershop or a Manhattan boxing ring. Many of his stories have received wide acclaim through publication in periodicals and anthologies; this book presents those eleven previously published stories along with eight others from the archive of his unpublished work. It also includes a biographical introduction and a critical analysis of the stories that will broaden readersŐ appreciation for his place in Chicano literature. In most of his stories, Su‡rez sought to portray people he knew from TucsonŐs El Hoyo barrio, a place usually thought of as urban wasteland when it is thought of at all. Su‡rez set out to fictionalize this place of ignored men and women because he believed their human stories were worth telling, and he hoped that through his depictions American literature would recognize their existence. By seeking to record the so-called underside of America, Su‡rez was inspired to pay close attention to peopleŐs mannerisms, language, and aspirations. And by focusing on these barrio characters he also crafted a unique, mild-mannered realism overflowing with humor and pathos. Along with Fray AngŽlico Ch‡vez, Su‡rez stands as arguably the mid-twentieth centuryŐs most important short story writer of Mexican descent. Chicano Sketches reclaims Su‡rez as a major figure of the genre and offers lovers of fine fiction a chance to rediscover this major talent.

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