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Dancing with Ghosts: A Critical Biography of Arturo Islas

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This first critical biography of Arturo Islas (1938­1991) brings to life the complex and overlapping worlds inhabited by the gay Chicano poet, novelist, scholar, and professor. Gracefully written and deeply researched, Dancing with Ghosts considers both the larger questions of Islas's life—his sexuality, racial identification, and political personality—and the events of his everyday existence, from his childhood in the borderlands of El Paso to his adulthood in San Francisco and at Stanford University. Frederick Aldama portrays the many facets of Islas's engaging and often contradictory personality. He also explores Islas's coming into the craft of poetry and fiction—his extraordinary struggle to publish his novels, The Rain God, La Mollie and the King of Tears, and Migrant Souls—as well as his pivotal role in paving the way for a new generation of Chicano/a scholars and writers.

Through a skillful interweaving of life history, criticism, and literary theory, Aldama paints an unusually rich and wide-ranging portrait of both the man and the eventful times in which he lived. He describes Islas's struggle with polio as a child, his near-death experience and ileostomy as a thirty-year-old beginning to explore his queer sexuality in San Francisco in the 1970s, and his fatal struggle with AIDS in the late 1980s. Drawing from hundreds of unpublished letters, lecture notes, drafts of essays, novels, and poetry archived at Stanford University, Aldama also deals frankly with the controversies that swirled around Islas's impassioned love life, his drug addictions, and his scholarly and professional career as one of the first Chicano/a professors in the United States. He discusses the importance of Islas's pioneering role in bridging Anglo, Latin American, Chicano/a, and European storytelling styles and voices. Dancing with Ghosts succeeds brilliantly both as an account of a fascinating life that embraced many different worlds and as a chronicle of the grand historical shifts that transformed the late-twentieth-century American cultural landscape.

Synopsis:

"Aldama's gracefully written biography of Arturo Islas will make a major contribution to U.S. literary and cultural studies. To read Aldama's Dancing with Ghosts is to enter the world of the Chicano imaginative writer, Arturo Islas, as never before. Drawing on a vast instructive archive of unpublished documents, Aldama probes Islas's mind, uncovers Islas's passions, and follows the writer and scholar's career."—José David Saldívar, author of Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies and The Dialectics of Our America

"Arturo Islas identified variously as writer, hedonist, Chicano, academic, gay, Catholic, and aesthete, crossing the borders between these roles with thoughtful abandon. His dark life shines brilliantly in Frederick Aldama's Dancing with Ghosts. To know Islas intimately is to understand a life lived fully and painfully, one whose literary legacy touches us still."—Tom Miller, author of On the Border: Portraits of America's Southwestern Frontier

"Danicing with Ghosts is a brilliant excursion into the life of critically acclaimed Chicano writer, Arturo Islas. Author Frederick Aldama weaves a textured narrative of a life marked by brilliance and illness; talent and addictions; writing and sexuality. Aldama's work sensitively and splendidly reconstructs the biography of a talented poet/novelist and in so doing provides the reader with a different cartography of the Chicano/a experience."—Maria Herrera-Sobek, author of The Mexican Corrido: A Feminist Analysis

About the Author

Frederick Luis Aldama is Associate Professor of U.S. Ethnic and Postcolonial Literature in the English Department at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is the author of Postethnic Narrative Criticism: Magicorealism in Ana Castillo, Hanif Kureishi, Julie Dash, Oscar "Zeta" Acosta, and Salman Rushdie (2003) and editor of Arturo Islas: The Uncollected Works (2003) and of the forthcoming Critical Mappings of Arturo Islas's Narrative Fictions and Contemporary Chicano/a Letters Mapped by Interview.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Bringing the Dead to Life

Chapter One: "Sonny"

Chapter Two: Bio-Graph

Chapter Three: Sexuality

Chapter Four: Death and Rebirth

Chapter Five: Being Chicano

Coda: "A Dancing with Ghosts"

Chronology of Major Events

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780520243927
Author:
Aldama, Frederick Luis
Publisher:
University of California Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Mexican americans
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Authors, American -- 20th century.
Subject:
Mexican-american authors
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Subject:
Gender Studies
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20041231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Illustrations:
11 b/w photographs
Pages:
218
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.5 in 13 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary

Dancing with Ghosts: A Critical Biography of Arturo Islas New Trade Paper
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$38.50 In Stock
Product details 218 pages University of California Press - English 9780520243927 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
"Aldama's gracefully written biography of Arturo Islas will make a major contribution to U.S. literary and cultural studies. To read Aldama's Dancing with Ghosts is to enter the world of the Chicano imaginative writer, Arturo Islas, as never before. Drawing on a vast instructive archive of unpublished documents, Aldama probes Islas's mind, uncovers Islas's passions, and follows the writer and scholar's career."—José David Saldívar, author of Border Matters: Remapping American Cultural Studies and The Dialectics of Our America

"Arturo Islas identified variously as writer, hedonist, Chicano, academic, gay, Catholic, and aesthete, crossing the borders between these roles with thoughtful abandon. His dark life shines brilliantly in Frederick Aldama's Dancing with Ghosts. To know Islas intimately is to understand a life lived fully and painfully, one whose literary legacy touches us still."—Tom Miller, author of On the Border: Portraits of America's Southwestern Frontier

"Danicing with Ghosts is a brilliant excursion into the life of critically acclaimed Chicano writer, Arturo Islas. Author Frederick Aldama weaves a textured narrative of a life marked by brilliance and illness; talent and addictions; writing and sexuality. Aldama's work sensitively and splendidly reconstructs the biography of a talented poet/novelist and in so doing provides the reader with a different cartography of the Chicano/a experience."—Maria Herrera-Sobek, author of The Mexican Corrido: A Feminist Analysis

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