Heart of Aztlan: A Novel
The Albuquerque barrio portrayed in this vivid novel of postwar New Mexico is a place where urban and rural, political and religious realities coexist, collide, and combine. The magic realism for which Anaya is well known combines with an emphatic portrayal of the plight of workers dispossessed of their heritage and struggling to survive in an alien culture.
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It was a plain, smooth stone, washed down from the mountains hundreds of years
ago. There was nothing special to it and yet as he held it in his hands he felt a
strange vibration humming in the rock. He looked at the crest of the mountain.
Somehow the rock and the mountain were connected. He looked at the grean
leaves of the river trees and for a moment he thought he saw the golden strings of
light that connected the leaves, the rock, the mountain. The same feeling and
Oh where is the source of my river! There, the wind answered, there where the
seven springs form the sacred lake! There by the desert of the white herons! And
they traveled on, following new signs, listening to the secrets of whispered stones
, moving towards the center. The sun burned them to the bone, the fever dried
Clemente's soul so he could not speak, and the mountain trails cut his feet until
they bled, and still he moved forward, whispering the name Aztldn. High on a
And so Clemente returned to the barrio, barely alive, raving about the mountain
he had climbed and the visions he had seen. Fever racked his body as he lay in
bed and for weeks he alternated between fitful sleep and wild explosions when
he repeated his journey. Bits of the story drifted out into the cold barrio streets
and wherever the men gathered to talk they talked about Clemente. "He was
gone a long time," one said, "no one knows where, but he came back crazy . . .
His hair has ...