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A Glass of Water Paperback – September 14, 2010

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Poet Baca's blistering novel takes to task the treatment of Mexican migrant workers in the US. When a young Mexican couple, Casimiro and Nopal, cross the border in 1984, their new life begins promisingly: they find work on a Texas farm and build a stable home for their two sons, Lorenzo and Vito. But before the boys reach adulthood, Nopal is murdered and her killer escapes. The family struggles to go on, with Lorenzo eventually taking over his father's farm duties and settling into domestic bliss with Carmen, a college student studying migrant workers. Vito's restless spirit leads him to fight in amateur boxing matches and to everyone's surprise, he shows a tantalizing level of talent and considers a serious fighting career. But even as the brothers find their own measures of success, they are haunted by the injustice of Nopal's murder. Interspersed with Lorenzo and Vito's lives are glimpses of Casimiro's youth and even Nopal's thoughts from the world beyond. A general sense of social and political unrest permeates the story, often to the point of distraction. But the sheer passion that drives Baca's novel is undeniable. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review


“A well-written and at times lyrical saga told with understanding and compassion.”—Library Journal

“Jimmy Santiago Baca’s poems read like novels, and his novels read like poems. . . . Baca fills his prose with evocative, naturalistic details, [and] his poetry’s beating heart . . . weaves stories of Chicano loss and redemption, often through a reconnection to Earth’s natural elements. . . . Baca’s tangible earthiness seeps through [A Glass of Water] . . . but his bucolic prose is anything but lulling; as the story builds to a violent resolution, so do the political undercurrents. But ultimately, it’s transcendent performance—Carmen’s song and Vito’s populist pugilism, not to mention Baca’s own transformation through literature—that offers salvation.”—The Austin Chronicle

“[With A Glass of Water] Baca manages to put a face on desperation. He decries the exploitation of migrant farm workers in the United States . . . [and] derogates not only an exploitive American economic system, but also Mexican drug lords driving the poor off their land, who become homeless or victims of violence. . . . [But] a field worker’s life isn’t all toil and gloom as reflected in the lives of the characters. There’s also passion, joy, love of family, adventure, love, longing, and accomplishment. The imagery is striking, the prose lyrical.”—The Albuquerque Journal

“[A] blistering novel . . . The sheer passion that drives Baca’s [work] is undeniable.”—Publishers Weekly

“[With] image-rich writing . . . A Glass of Water adds another strong voice to the growing body of literature on immigrants and migrant farm workers. . . . Baca should be commended for tackling injustice in his fiction.”—High Country News

“Impressive . . . Fierce and uncompromising, but also beautiful and wise, A Glass of Water might be [Baca’s] most accessible work yet. . . . Baca’s concerns are universal: family, loyalty, the dignity of hard work, and, above all, love.”—Pasatiempo
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802145108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802145109
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I love Jimmy Santiago Baca's poetry so, when I was walking around the book store today and, "A Glass of Water" caught my attention, I sat down for a quick sip. It didn't take long for me to decide to buy the book. This is his first novel (according to the jacket) and it is incredible. It was so engaging that I read it entirely in one sitting - a 4 hour drink to be exact.

I won't give any spoilers so, my synopsis is deliberately brief. The story is about two brothers whose divergent paths re-converge at the story's end. This 215 page work attests to Baca's powerful story-telling abilities.

His prose is even more enjoyable as it echoes Baca's passion and accomplishment as a skilled poet. There are moments in the story where the writing is lyrical and rich in details - something only a poet can do.

The story line tangentially details the plight of undocumented Mexicans and, if I have any regrets, they would be that the underlying story - the bigotry that so many Americans harbor against Mexicans was not delved into more deeply. For my part, the story is great but I was left wanting to know more. There are parts of the story that could have been expanded and elaborated upon quite a bit more without making the book unnecessarily long (eg. the brothers' childhood relationship, ancillary characters such as the man with nickle-tipped boots, the land owner, Carmen and her work, the concentration camps).

The story deals with tension, strife, romance, angst, violence, revenge intrigue, regret, rage and forces of compromise. While the protagonists' character development were sufficient to carry the story, their development was more reflective of the title; drinks that only left me thirsty. I wanted to know more.

I am not sure what the title has to do with the story and, at least for this reader, a drink was not enough.

This book could easily work out to be part of a series because, there remains so much more to tell.
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Format: Hardcover
I am unfamiliar with Baca's writing, but this book caught my attention. I put it back and then went back for it. A very interesting read, it is both sympathetic and brutally lacking sympathy (sometimes at the same time) for the plight of the immigrant farm laborers. I read the book in one sitting. I was unable to put it down as I needed to know where this brilliantly crafted story was taking me. It was fascinating and somewhat surreal despite being set in a very real and harsh environment. I only regretted that the book was not longer and more fleshed out. I didn't want to leave these characters at the point when I left them. That is the only reason it did not get 5 stars: the end seemed abrupt and the story incomplete.
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Format: Paperback
A Glass of Water is an important novel that should be read by all. It is a riveting story about the clash of ambition and loyalty, revenge and justice, as a family fights for survival and reinvents the American Dream. Mr. Baca boldly explores the brutal devastation of the U.S. immigration practices that are truly an atrocious affront to humanity. He shows this profoundly horrific reality without seeming predictable or didactic. It is a heartfelt and inspiring story about brotherhood and perseverance that will certainly stand the test of time. His descriptions are lyrical and his characters are full of passion and will reach you with a force so powerful you will forget you're reading a book. Don't start reading A Glass of Water if you have somewhere to be in the next few hours because you won't be able to stop.
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