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La Maravilla Paperback – April 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (April 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452271606
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452271609
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #316,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Vea's debut, a nine-year-old boy searches for meaning amid the squatters and rusty Cadillacs of an impoverished Phoenix suburb in 1958.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Marigolds, the flowers of the goddesses, and an old dog, the herald of completion, give the Spanish title to this first novel of magic, deep love, and grinding poverty in a neglected edge of Phoenix. At its center is Beto, a fatherless, prematurely wise boy, and his abuelitos ("grandparents"), Spanish Catholic Josephina and Yaqui Manuel. They live on Buckeye Road, a place of peculiar racial harmony born of solidarity in poverty. Their neighbors in this Cadillac graveyard and tarpaper community include young Boydeen, living scarred under a porch and speechlessly writing down all she hears; and mournful prostitute Vernetta, whose abundant flesh diminishes with her lost son's return. Many fascinating characters with singular, sometimes fantastic stories both enliven and crowd this sorrowful, entertaining, erratic novel. A good choice for adventurous readers.
- Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
Thank you, thank you Mr. Vea for giving us this wonderful treasure of a novel.
Reader
The way that the author wrapped up the story details at the end when the main character is an adult was skillful and pleasant to read.
Pamela J. Mcglynn
This book is honestly the best one I have encountered in a very, very long time.
C. L. Schoon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 1998
Format: Paperback
i began to write this book in 1989 when i was defending a Mexican-American boy against a charge of murder. The judge and the jury in this small San Joaquin valley town were so incredibly racist and abusive toward my client and myself that I took my anger and frustration to my small computer. (The boy was convicted, but his sentence has since been reversed...specifically because of the the judge's abuse of his power.) A story of the true origins of culture; a story about race that began in anger slowly became a love song for culture, for people on the outside. ALFREDO VEA JR.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. L. Schoon on December 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is honestly the best one I have encountered in a very, very long time. The manipulation of time, the unexpectedness of virtues in characters so many other authors would have made into cliches, the theme of physics as a unifying science, all make this a book about so much more than "Buckeye". It's about the world, the universe, life and death, ancient ways colliding with progress. If you want to change the way you see the world, read this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
This novel carries with it ghosts and magic, love and forgiveness; it carries the embodiment of the human spirit. It is simply a work that has affected me deeply for several years--something I may pick occassionally to read aloud, to hear the lyric and respect with which this story has been told.
The pastiche of characters: Beto and his family, locals and drifters, find humanity within each others' alienation in a desolate yet profound environment.
If you have been moved by the history and beauty of Marquez or Allende, and other so-called Magic Realists, if the poetic style of Michael Ondaatje appeals to you, and if you are still haunted by the characters of Steinbeck's "The Wayward Bus" or "Cannery Row"--you must read this book. And if you have read this book, please consider reading a book by Canadian author Sky Lee called "Disappearing Moon Cafe." It is equally as gorgeous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By karla on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I haven't read a book that has touched me this much in years. I was awed by the music in Vea's words, breathless trying to understand the layers of meaning found in this book. It's like a beautiful dream, or a kaleidoscope from which you cannot and do not want to look away. You will enjoy this book if you are into Magical Realism, or simply if you like exploring the themes of family, death, and the supernatural. A gem of a book. I wonder if the book was originally writte in Spanish-- I suspect it would be even more beautiful that way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Joel on November 21, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Partially autobiographical, La Maravilla tells the engrossing tale of a young boy growing up in a migrant workers' "town" outside Phoenix, AZ, in the 1950s and 60s.

Speaking to some of the other reviewers' comments that the book is difficult to get into, I found that the "slow" beginning was actually the author building the base on which the wonders of the rest of the book so beautifully fit.

Rarely have I felt such a sense of wonderment and connection while reading a work of fiction. Vea's depictions of some of his characters can (and should) be labeled magical realism, but those touches make the characters even more real and allow the reader a deeper understanding of the world Vea has constructed.

Read this book. You won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Reader on October 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most gorgeous books I have ever read. If I had to chose 10 books to be stranded on a desert island with, this would certainly be one of them. Thank you, thank you Mr. Vea for giving us this wonderful treasure of a novel.
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Format: Paperback
La Maravilla dishes up Phoenix's Buckeye Road as it never was, while telling how itis for many who live at the margins. Vea's novel is like a wonderful southwestern blend of Tony Hillerman and Gabriel Garcia Marquez,with the subtlety of Louise Erdrich rolled in.
Youthful Beto, the protagonist, sees everything in his diverse community of three-dimensional outcasts, from his Spanish Abuela to his Yaqui grandfather, the bus full of haute cuisine cross-dressers to the elegant lesbian prostitutes Sugar Dee and Potrice, to Vernetta in her rocking trailer "La Cometa" and Boydeen living under the wooden porch at the Chinese-American grocery store, taking down every word spoken on her court reporter's machine. This is Vea's first novel, and it is perfect. I expect more good things from this new author!
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
La Maravilla organizes itself as a complex yet illuminating narration that revolves around experiential themes related to the voyage, the epiphany, and the spectacle, thus making altered forms of consciousness--like the dream, the vision, and the nightmare--a trope for reading the novel. The result will be a narrative amalgam that includes love stories, "visions" (particularly Beto's Yaqui rite of initiation), and folk healers, all displayed through a setting found on the "wasteland" of Phoenix, that is to say, on a city dump awaiting the cleansing fires and the new life-forms that shall rise from their own ashes. The multilayered structure of La Maravilla's narrative is found embryo-like in the title itself through its polycultural meanings, namely: a marvel (maravilla, in Spanish), a flower (the Aztec cempasúchil [marigold], as the flower of the dead), and a dog (a person's guide to Mictlan, the land of the dead according to pre-Columbian mythology). Obviously, in addition to these suggested meanings, there are interconnections made through punning between the poetry of Andrew Marvell, Captain Marvel, and with a collective response to female beauty: Josefina's when she marries Manuel ("a hundred different tongues to mouth their marvel at the beauty of the bride," p. 288). The title itself, as a result, becomes an ideological construct in its own right, composed of polyglot meanings--Aztec, Spanish, English--that revolve around a common metaphysical axis, namely: life and death. The word maravilla, in sum, sends reverberations across several languages, either through the conduit of cognates (e.g, maravilla=marvel), or by way of archetypes linked to cycles of nature that thematize ideas of decay and resurrection.Read more ›
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