The Essays, Rudolfo Anaya. (U Oklahoma P) $24.95
The “Godfather and guru of Chicano literature” has long been displaced by his godsons and daughters, so it’s surprising that University of Oklahoma Press has recently printed the first collection of his essays, with a forward by World Literature Today Executive Director Robert Con Davis-Undiano. Anaya is a competent nonfiction writer, and though his positions are not earth shaking—indeed they are more often boring than not—they do reflect the early dialogue of Chicano literature. As in his fiction, Anaya is prone to romanticism, though the essays do vary widely in tone, from “Requiem for a Lowrider,” a high school graduation speech, to “Take the Tortillas out of Your Poetry,” from a section of essays on censorship and self-censorship. An odd publication considering the state of contemporary Chicano literature, heralding an era of early Chicanismo best left in the past.
World’s End, Pablo Neruda, tr. William O’Daly. (Copper Canyon) $15
William O’Daly’s new translation of World’s End completes Copper Canyon’s nine-volume library of Neruda’s late and posthumous work. A book-length poem, World’s End explores the violence and mistrust of the twentieth century, as well as the poet’s own personal, literary, and political history. The book is presented in a beautiful bilingual edition that reiterates the fine job that O’Daly has done translating the poem.
I want to know, my brothers,
I said to the Fishermen’s Union,
whether you all love yourselves as I do.
The truth is—they answered me—
we fish for fish
and you fish inside yourself
and later return to fish for yourself
and throw yourself back into the sea.