Synopses & Reviews
In this new collection of poetry, National Book Award finalist Gary Soto tackles the shabby reality of the world around him and turns it into vivid poetry. Drawing on the Chicano slang of the barrio, Soto gives authentic voice to portraits of life set mostly in California's San Joaquin Valley, where he was born and raised. The theme of the poet as troubadour runs throughout the bookthere is a wry humor in Soto's description of the drunken narrator of "The Mariachi Suit," who, with "spurs jangling music" and a "guitar like a small coffin in my arms," serenades an audience of cats, "Who yawn, lick the clover pads/Of their salty paws, and prance away." A delightful poem to Soto's wife of 23 years ("Meat and Potatoes") playfully contrasts a miserable bachelor meal with the exotic cooking of the woman next door: "Love was at her table,/A fork going to her mouth and the noodles,/How delicious, easy to swallow." These new poems will please Soto's many admirers, and the edgy voice of A Natural Man is sure to convert even more.
Reviews from: Publisher's Weekly
National Book Award finalist Gary Soto (Junior College) continues his colloquial, sometimes-pugnacious portrayals of Chicano life and culture in A Natural Man. Soto rolls up his metaphorical sleeves to take on the blue-collar/white-collar workplace divide; the hardships of dilapidated apartments; the consolations of folk religion; the hidden meaning of body-piercings; and "The Effects of Abstract Art." Addressing the lingering myth of Pancho Villa, Soto asks his reader, "What happens after the heroes die?"
by Anneli Rufus
In his new poetry collections, A Natural Man, Gary Soto writes of armpits and urges and boys who push rocks up their noses. Relishing what he calls the "joy of those years," Soto recalls the "teenage werewolf" he once was, whose wanderings in a world of sighing sprinklers and girl who make prank calls lend sweet anguish to these lines. "It's different from the joy kids get nowadays," say the National Book Award finalist. "So many gadgets have replace kick-the-can." On the Fresno streets of his youth, "we knew everything. We played from morning till evening. We fought from morning till evening. If you stayed inside, something was wrong with you."
About the Author
Gary Soto is one of today's most celebrated Chicano writers. He has received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and his New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives in Berkeley, California.