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Ask a Mexican Paperback – April 22, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
However, if biting satire is your cup of canela tea, Arellano is the man for you.
In his book, he brings together the best of his nationally syndicated column of the same name, with some new material thrown in for good measure.
For the uninitiated, Arellano lives in Orange County, Calif., and is a staff writer and a news editor for the OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper serving the region.
Arellano's column began almost as a joke a few years ago between him and his editor, Will Swaim. Swaim, it seems, had an idea for a one-time column (to fill some space) in which Arellano would answer questions about Mexicans. As Arellano explains in his characteristically in-your-face introduction to the book, Swaim turned to him "not only because I was the only Latino on staff and mowed the lawn on the side, but because my background -- child of Mexican immigrants (one illegal!), recipient of a master's degree in Latin American studies, a truthful beaner -- put me in a unique position to be an authority on all things Mexican."
So Arellano "slapped together" the first Q&A:
Question: "Dear Mexican, Why do Mexicans call white people gringos?"
Answer: "Dear Gabacho, Mexicans do not call gringos gringos. Only gringos call gringos gringos. Mexicans call gringos gabachos."
It was an immediate hit with readers, and questions started pouring in -- much to Arellano's amazement. This one-time lark became a regular column.Read more ›
In this age of political correctness, there is something refreshing about a journalist who is not afraid to speak his mind. In an odd way, the publication of Arellano's weekly column shows a maturing of ethnic relations in the United States. Throughout our country's history, the people at the bottom have always been the recipients of the majority's distain. Not content to be some noble victim, Arellenao believes giving some of it back is the classic way of dealing with this type of petty oppression. Guastavo Arellano is as "All American" as Don Rickles and Jackie Mason.
For starters, Sr. Arellano begins by listing a dictionary of Mexican slang terms. For example, did you know that Mexicans do not call those of us north of the border 'gringos' like most of us believe? Instead they call us 'gabachos'. Though not explicitly stated, something tells me that this is a derisive term. In fact, most of the slang dictionary, as short as it is, involves Mexican verbiage for rather vulgar invectives! Imagine that! Who would've thought that about our 'south of the border' neighbors?
Well, I found myself pretty well entertained with Gustavo's Mexican candor until I got about a third of the way through the book. I then realized that all of the Q/A involved some variation of the theme:
Q: Can you explain some particular aspect of Mexican culture?
A: Mexicans do what ever they want to do and if it annoys you gabacho's, so much the better!
Throw in some vulgarity in the response and you get the idea. While the above mentioned format became somewhat tedious, I did find myself drawn to read on. And, as I did, I began to understand how the Mexican mind set works. They are pretty much a culture bound together with the common goal to find a better life here in the U.S., or wherever, with whatever it takes.Read more ›
Arellano's main role here is as myth debunker and as one who tries to put Mexican immigration in a historical context for his readers. I've selected this passage from p. 40 as emblematic of his approach. A reader writes "Why don't Mexicans want to assimilate and accept our way of life?" The Mexican answers (in part) that "(i)n the case of reverence for one's roots, it boils down thusly: gabachos long-removed from Ellis Island can love their ancestors without shame because they're the descendants of immigrants, and immigrants made this nation great; Mexicans can't because they _are_ immigrants, and immigrants are turning America into the Third World."
Like that opinion or not, you have to give Arellano credit for superbly crafted sentences like that. The book is rife with them. It makes for a great read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
CSUF Alum has his facts correct and entertains the reader with humor.Published 27 days ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent!!! Arellano provides an education ...history, culture, politics and more, and delivers it with humor and intelligence. Loved it!Published 29 days ago by pustaka
Some interesting info about economics ,immigration and religious belief(i.e. Our Lady of Guadalupe)....Much Less than the best if rated on satire...abjPublished 4 months ago by abj
And surprisingly, intelligently written. Everyone should read this book to gain some hilarious but true insight into what Gustavo calls the "Mexicans" that live on both... Read morePublished 6 months ago by snideelf
This guy is outrageously politcally incorrect and oh so right. The book is laugh out loud funny and a great read. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jeffrey R Oliveira
Based on the reviews I have read here - it's obvious that Mr. Arellano either has a large family OR several alias' and likes to review his book himself. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Algernon
After I got the same book in Spanish, I bought this so my daughters could have fun, too.Published 13 months ago by Carmen Paez