Synopses & Reviews
A delightful panorama of southwestern culture is presented in this collection of satirical and penetrating essays exploring the language, turbulent history, and rich multicultural fabric of life in this unique region.
Jim Sagel explores with sensitivity and humor the unique language, turbulent history, and rich multicultural fabric of life in New Mexico and the Southwest. He creates a concrete and delightfully detailed panorama of southwestern life--from century-old Indian elders stepping in time to a pre-Columbian dance to lowriders cruising like conquistadors into a Lotaburger future. Sagel has honed his unique ability to not only observe the quirky and sometimes magical interplay of cultures, but to set those observations in a context that is both accessible and entertaining to the reader. His essays explore the relevancy and dynamics of bilingualism, the effects of tourism, and the importance of maintaining traditions. Sagel's diverse portraits demonstrate the stamina and self-sufficiency of New Mexicans who have worked to sustain their creativity and privacy. Among the issues Sagel addresses are the linguistic and cultural phenomena of bilingual code-switching, or "Spanglish", as it is popularly known; the beauty and significance of the oral tradition; and the effects of tourists and immigrants who, in spite of their muskets and Master-Cards, all end up being changed by this ancient land with its vibrant history. Sagel's poetic language and humor make these essays of interest to a broad cross-section of readers, from the bilingual educator to the high school student, from the cultural anthropologist to the occasional visitor interested in knowing more about Hispanic culture and the Southwest.