Rev. of Las Nalgas de JLo/JLo’s Booty: The Best & Most Notorious Calumnas & Other Writings by the First Chicana Columnist in Texas 1995-2005

Add this to the growing list of books that I need to read…

Review by Michael Sedano found here: http://labloga.blogspot.com

Review: Bárbara Renaud González. Las Nalgas de JLo/JLo’s Booty: The Best & Most Notorious Calumnas & Other Writings by the First Chicana Columnist in Texas 1995-2005. San Antonio: Aztlán Libre Press, 2017. ISBN: 978-0-9897782-3-7

I am bingeing on JLo’s nalgas. The book, not the buns. You know what bingeing is. Not in the sense of overdoing something but in the way people will get their hands on the full season of some popular teevee program and devote hours on end to devouring the characters and plots.

But Bárbara Renaud González’ collection of newspaper columns is nothing like teevee with teevee’s predictable plot lines, telegraphic ironies, heart-throbs of actors pulling down millions of dollars per episode. Like JLo.

But the collection isn’t really about JLo. It’s about Texans. It’s about raza. It’s about humans. It’s a voice we need and we need it now. Buy this book, gift this book, tell your library and indie bookseller to make JLo’s Nalgas widely available.

González isn’t going to get rich from this incredibly rich collection, but her voice makes her seem a heart-throb woman. Witty, incisive, a todo dar pulls no punches writing, the collection introduces readers outside of Texas to a Unitedstatesian gem.

Why’d you quit, Bárbara? If there’s anything our culture needs right now is a sharp stick in the eye to wake us up to the crud that’s a continuation of the kinds of characters, scandals, desmadres, fiery anger, profound humor, that occupy the book’s eight sections.

The collection is tough to consume in one sitting because there are so many great lines and classic quips. A reader is forced to stop and savor the moment, read it again. Then, moving on to the next and the next reprinted piece, and a few poems and unpublished thoughts, one has to stop and go back to find a particular gem that won’t let you keep reading until you find and relive that phrase.

I dog-ear my books to mark those places but I had to abandon the practice. Nearly every essay has a bent corner. Her subjects probably got bent out of shape when they read their names. Imagine if Henry B. Gonzalez were still around to have his pecadilloes picked over in the first essay (“the hero of San Anto who only saved himself,” one poet wrote), or in a closing essay, Henry Cisneros, another would-be sexual athlete. “He is not rich but takes care of women as if he were.” Ay, Henry. Both of you.

Excoriating archly-conservative Coors beer’s razacentric spending, González lets a journo speak for his ilk, “‘I don’t think the contribution means we have been silenced,’ says Gilbert Bailón, the advocate-minded president for the journalists. ‘Some have questioned whether we should be taking money from, beer companies.’ He didn’t think that Latino journalists were compromised in any way, even if the stories weren’t being written.”

Reviewing Denise Chávez’ Loving Pedro Infante, the columnist offers background on the Mexicano movie heart-throb:

It is no wonder, then, that in Denise Chávez’ latest and best novela, the searching for love scorches and burns like a #5 Combination Plate at midnight. But ay, how good it tastes going down. Pedro Infante was a movie star and singer as close to a Mexican god as you can get after that feathered-serpent Quetzalcoatl left us promising to return. That god took to the east by sea, but Pedro Infante flew his own plane, crashed, and died on April 15, 1957, at age forty.
  Though, like Elvis, he has been sighted all over Mexico and even on the border at twilight.

I suppose owing to the strictures of a regional newspaper like the San Antonio Express-News Renaud’s editor forced the italics on the Spanish words. Sadly, that’s a concession to prescriptive rules that subverts the underlying conception of raza as equal partners in border cultura. Lástima. It’s like González observes in Me And Kobe In The Back Seat, “Why don’t we complain? Right away? Well, now I have.”

As I noted, the richness of these essays could fill pages with great lines and insights.  Selected from a five year record but presented thematically rather than chronologically, it’s fun to pick and choose by provocative title with no diminution of continuity. Everything fits. All 284 pages are as richly satisfying as your mother’s tacos. That’s a consequence not only of Bárbara Renaud Gonzáles’ refined skill but also a tribute the publisher, Aztlán Libre Press. Title after title, this small press brings to market fresh ideas too long and conspicuously absent from our Unitedstatesian literary landscape–that is, if you’re paying attention.

González is paying attention. As she puts finis to the volume on the eve of the sickness taking control in the oval orifice, she leaves the reader with a plate of sesos. “With this book, I want you to understand resistance, and the price of that resistance. But I also want you to love yourself so that you can love others. I hope I will not be in jail in the next decade, but who knows?”

You can, and should, order Las Nalgas de JLo/JLo’s Booty: The Best & Most Notorious Calumnas & Other Writings by the First Chicana Columnist in Texas 1995-2005
from your local indie bookseller, but it’s a one-step process when you order publisher-direct here.

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