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This War Called Love Paperback – May 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This War Called Love is the second collection of stories by American Book Award-winner Alejandro Murguia (Southern Front). Young Reymundo's idyllic life in 1950s Mexico City is interrupted by one tragedy after another in the richly detailed "Boy on a Wooden Horse." Although the eight subsequent stories don't quite measure up to this one, there are a few gems. In "Ofrendas," Reymundo is older, living in San Francisco's Mission District, mourning a lost friend on the Day of the Dead. The darkly humorous "Barrio Lotto," in which a bus driver and his psychic wife struggle to stay afloat financially, features an ending worthy of Roald Dahl.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Equal parts funny and sad, Murguia's short stories depict, with tender and sometimes unflinching detail, love, life, and growing up Hispanic. The heartbreaking "Boy on a Wooden Horse" takes place in the year before an earthquake nearly leveled Mexico City and follows a young boy whose childhood races past him as he faces one tragedy after another. In the brief but powerful story "The Flower Seller," a child walks the streets of California, selling roses out of a bucket in restaurants while his mother repairs clothes and his sisters sew beads on dresses for retail stores--all of them working for pennies. Although the best of the collection are on the darker side, Murguia also shines in the more lighthearted stories; for instance, the hilarious dance maestro of "A Lesson in Meringue" teaches a class the forbidden dance, claiming it washes away problems and is the cheapest workout in town. Free of stereotypes and always honest, this collection presents Latino-Chicano life at full throttle. Carlos Orellana
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (May 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872863948
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872863941
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,495,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sara Greenwald on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Thsee stories show us a part of the real world, rather than isolated characters on a literary stage. Murguia's narrators are story-tellers, and their voices are wildly varied, but each so dead-on that reading is hearing them talk. Reading is easy despite Murguia's elaborate blending of ideas, feelings, and information. In "El Ultimo Round," for example a pair of movement cognoscenti hash out their politics drunk as skunks on the freeway.
You could use the book to learn a little Mexican Spanish or history or get a modern male view about love. Some of the stories are set-pieces. A very short one about a little boy selling roses reminded me of the moment in A Streetcar Named Desire when the heroine opens the door and sees an old woman calling "flores para los muertos -- flowers for the dead." She slams the door, realizing she can't just walk out on her dysfunctional family; there's just one escape from her dysfunctional self.
Moments like that risk becoming sops to a reader's conscience (we all face death, so what's a little oppression here and there...). Murguia dodges this risk by rooting his characters firmly in the real world. In the first story, a boy's dreamy cinematic image of his actress mother broods over the earthquake-transfigured city, but we and he spend most of our time with the facts of boyhood friendships, fights and betrayals, the vanished neighborhoods, and the history of Mexican cinema.
Murguia can celebrate the poor without romanticizing. In Ofrendas, the Day of the Dead in the Mission district comes through in its full seasoned exuberance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Santos on December 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Mr. Murguia is an excellent writter as well as an excellent teacher. He brings us into the story by sending vivid pictures into our mind and letting us experience exactly what the charater is feeling. I feel that my family could relate to it as well. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone.
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By J. NELSON on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This might sound weird but one of the hallmarks of virtually all Bay Area writers from Jack London to Gary Snyder to Ishmael Reed is some appreciation of nature. At one point he refers to the mixed Redwood and Douglas Fir forest on the Peninsula as, "Pine trees". It made the rest of the book seem less than authentic, as though it was a little too carelessly written. It reminded me of a friend, recently moved to California from New York, who insisted on referring to everyone darker than lightly tanned as "Puerto Rican".
That said, some stories read like they were written straight from the heart. "The Boy on the Wooden Horse" read like a dream. Although I lived in La Mission for a few years and drove a bus in the City for many more, I never connected with the world of Latin intellectuals and artists and most of the stories take place in that world. I can't tell you how true those stories are but I enjoyed them. I used to drink coffee at 24th and Mission and watch heavy characters in eye glasses and pork pie hats debating the merits of Victor Hugo and wish I could get in on that conversation.
I had to chose between 3 and 4 stars and I came down on the side of 3 but really my rating is something like 3.79. I'll probably read some more of Murguia's stuff.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
Some excellent stories, but some that bore. Murguia has the sense of place and delivery of a culture down pat, but needs more skill in weaving a tale. I wanted to like this book more than I did, having read some of his other work, but overall it was pretty forgettable quickly after reading.
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