The Republic of East L.A. by Luis J. Rodriguez

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From the award-winning author of Always Running comes a brilliant collection of short stories about life in East Los Angeles. It is a life brimming with hope and vitality, the depiction of which reaffirms Luis J. Rodriguez as not only one of America's keenest urbanists but as a writer with a perfect blendof humanist empathy and poetic soul.

Behind this famed enclave's notorious gang violence its well-documented and stereotyped poverty rates, and the supposed desperation of those who live in East L.A. without any hope of escape, lies one resounding element: real people, with real strength, in very real predicaments.

Whether hilariously capturing the voice of a philosophizing limo driver in his late twenties whose dream is to make the most of his rap-metal garage band in "My Ride, My Revolution," or the monologue-styled rant of a tes-ti-fy-ing! tent revivalist named Ysela in "Oiga," Rodriguez squeezes humor from the lives of people who are not ready to sacrifice their dreams due to circumstance. In so doing, he allows readers to enter into the hidden and hope-filled chambers of an individual's spirit, only to artfully balance this with the more serious intonations of life's grimmer realities.

In "Finger Dance," Rodriguez pays tribute to the slow death of a violent and harsh father who, in his last days, is rendered physically and mentally helpless. In "Pigeons," we are shown a world where Mexican-Americans ironically and hypocritically distrust Mexicans, while in "Sometimes You Dance with a Watermelon," we meet a mother who finds momentary relief from her life with a good mambo, a hot sun, and a juicy piece of fruit.

In these stories, Luis J. Rodriguez gives eloquent voice to the neighborhood where he spent many years as a resident, a father, an organizer, and, finally, a writer: a neighborhood that offers more to the world than its appearance allows. The Republic of East L.A. is unforgettable fiction from a true talent.


About Luis J. Rodriguez

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Luis J. Rodriguez is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Always Running, The Republic of East L.A., and Hearts and Hands, as well as poetry and books for children. He lives with his family in California.
Published April 1, 2002 by Rayo. 256 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Republic of East L.A.

Kirkus Reviews

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Twelve stories from poet and memoirest Rodriguez (Always Running, 1993, etc.) paint a disturbing portrait of East Los Angeles, but fail to populate it with characters who transcend the political sensibility they seem to emerge from.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Republic of East L.A.: St...

Publishers Weekly

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Poet, essayist and editor Rodriguez (Always Running: La Vida Loca; Gang Days in L.A.) assembles 12 gritty, hard-hitting snapshots taken from the lives of careworn

Mar 18 2002 | Read Full Review of The Republic of East L.A.: St...

Publishers Weekly

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In "Boom, Bot, Boom" an afternoon of barhopping turns two friends—both newly unemployed and miserable—into outlaws, while the poignant "Finger Dance" features a heavyhearted son who, after a lifetime of feeling unwanted, searches his dying father's face "for signs of love."

| Read Full Review of The Republic of East L.A.: St...

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