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Their Dogs Came with Them

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Their Dogs Came with Them Cover

ISBN13: 9780743287661
ISBN10: 0743287665
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Award-winning author of Under the Feet of Jesus, Helena María Viramontes offers a profoundly gritty portrait of everyday life in L.A. in this lyrically muscular, artfully crafted novel.

In the barrio of East Los Angeles, a group of unbreakable young women struggle to find their way through the turbulent urban landscape of the 1960s. Androgynous Turtle is a homeless gang member. Ana devotes herself to a mentally ill brother. Ermila is a teenager poised between childhood and political consciousness. And Tranquilina, the daughter of missionaries, finds hope in faith. In prose that is potent and street tough, Viramontes has choreographed a tragic dance of death and rebirth. Julia Alvarez has called Viramontes "one of the important multicultural voices of American literature." Their Dogs Came with Them further proves the depth and talent of this essential author.

Review:

"Latino life in 1960s East Los Angeles is the subject of Viramontes's kaleidoscopic and occasionally frustrating first novel (after short story collection The Moths), an amalgamation of troubled young people, a troubled neighborhood and an aggressive storytelling voice. There are the mother-and-daughter preachers; a young woman looking for her missing, mentally unstable brother; an androgynous young woman gang member passing as a man; a clique of boisterous teenage girls intent on protecting themselves; and the unhappy grandparents who attempt to keep one of the girls in check. The constant presence of the shadowy Quarantine Authority (supposedly on the lookout for rabid dogs but more intent on policing residents) and the imminent construction of a freeway that will bisect the district are but two threats to the struggling but vibrant community. All this emerges in fits and starts, with Viramontes somewhat less concerned with plot or character development than with establishing aura. Readers willing to look past the loose narrative construction will find the book's heart in Viramontes's voice: at once terse, energetic and vivid." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

The award-winning author of "Under the Feet of Jesus" offers a profoundly gritty portrait of everyday life in L.A., in this lyrically muscular, artfully crafted novel.

About the Author

Helena María Viramontes is the acclaimed author of The Moths and Other Stories and Under the Feet of Jesus; and the coeditor of two collections: Chicana (W)Rites: On Word and Film and Chicana Creativity and Criticism. She is the recipient of the 2006 Luis Leal Award and the John Dos Passos Award for Literature, and her short stories and essays have been widely anthologized and adopted for classroom use and university study. Viramontes lives in Ithaca, New York, where she is a professor in the Department of English at Cornell University.

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Daniel Olivas, April 16, 2007 (view all comments by Daniel Olivas)
In 1985, Arte Público Press published Helena María Viramontes' first book, "The Moths and Other Stories," which has become a classic in Chicano literature. Since then, her short stories have appeared in more than 80 anthologies.

Viramontes published the novel "Under the Feet of Jesus" (Plume Books) in 1995, about a makeshift family of migrant workers. It was met with great critical acclaim and now graces many high-school and college reading lists.

Now, fans of Viramontes' writing can delight in the publication of her new novel, "Their Dogs Came With Them" (Atria Books, $23 hardcover). It possesses Viramontes' trademark poetic grittiness, with well-drawn characters who almost leap from the page.

The novel is a heart-rending but hopeful portrait of lives that are rocked by the turmoil and violence of East Los Angeles during the 1960s.

Asked whether she saw some form of redemption arising from her mostly female protagonists' struggles with poverty, bigotry and governmental abuses, Viramontes responded with characteristic candor:

"If I didn't want to recognize the redemption of their everyday ordeals, why write about them in the first place? I marvel, truly marvel, at the everyday, ordinary ordeals of human life, and I want to give justice to an existence that very few people or readers acknowledge."

In many ways, this sentiment is emblematic of Viramontes' perception of writers and their role in society. She asserts that "serious writers have the responsibility to try and disrupt patterns of thought and behavior that damage the integrity of life. That's why most writers do their best work while living on the fringes of a society."

With respect to writers of color such as herself, Viramontes provocatively adds: "Because our communities are constantly bombarded with inhumane violence and racism, I think we writers write with greater urgency." She takes this role seriously: "The greatest compliment to a writer is if a reader is disturbed enough to begin questioning his/her own beliefs."

In choosing the setting and era for her new novel, Viramontes did not need to stray far from her roots. She was born in East Los Angeles into a large family that always extended to relatives and friends who had crossed the border from Mexico to California.

While attending Immaculate Heart College, she worked part time at the bookstore and library to help pay for her education. Viramontes eventually earned her master of fine arts degree from the University of California at Irvine.

She has gone on to win many awards, including the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, a Sundance Institute Fellowship, and the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature.

Today, Viramontes is a teacher and mentor to many young writers. She is a professor of creative writing at Cornell University.

Despite well-deserved acclaim, Viramontes does not pretend that writing is easy. "Their Dogs Came With Them" was more than a decade in the making because teaching and life's other demands often devoured her attention.

When Viramontes could make time to return to her novel, she sometimes suffered from writer's block. But she did not give up:

"I just kept my fingers close to the keyboard, walking distance close, just in case something would happen. I had to pay close attention. I reminded myself that a novel begins by one word following another."

Viramontes also observes: "Writing novels is certainly not for the fainthearted, and writing them on a university schedule can be brutally challenging."

We can be grateful for her perseverance. "Their Dogs Came With Them" establishes that Viramontes is simply one of our finest chroniclers of the ordinary but heroic ordeals of human life.

[This review first appeared in the El Paso Times.]
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780743287661
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Viramontes, Helena M
Author:
Viramontes, Helena Maria
Author:
Viramontes, Helene M.
Publisher:
Atria Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Mexican americans
Subject:
Express highways
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Los angeles (calif.)
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Atria Bks Hdcvr
Publication Date:
20070403
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Their Dogs Came with Them Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Atria Books - English 9780743287661 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Latino life in 1960s East Los Angeles is the subject of Viramontes's kaleidoscopic and occasionally frustrating first novel (after short story collection The Moths), an amalgamation of troubled young people, a troubled neighborhood and an aggressive storytelling voice. There are the mother-and-daughter preachers; a young woman looking for her missing, mentally unstable brother; an androgynous young woman gang member passing as a man; a clique of boisterous teenage girls intent on protecting themselves; and the unhappy grandparents who attempt to keep one of the girls in check. The constant presence of the shadowy Quarantine Authority (supposedly on the lookout for rabid dogs but more intent on policing residents) and the imminent construction of a freeway that will bisect the district are but two threats to the struggling but vibrant community. All this emerges in fits and starts, with Viramontes somewhat less concerned with plot or character development than with establishing aura. Readers willing to look past the loose narrative construction will find the book's heart in Viramontes's voice: at once terse, energetic and vivid." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , The award-winning author of "Under the Feet of Jesus" offers a profoundly gritty portrait of everyday life in L.A., in this lyrically muscular, artfully crafted novel.
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