Bandido: Oscar ""Zeta"" Acosta and the Chicano Experience

Ilan Stavans, Author Westview Press $20 (144p) ISBN 978-0-06-438557-2
The inspiration for Hunter S. Thompson's notorious ``Samoan'' attorney in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a quixotic campaigner for Los Angeles sheriff, the hard-living Chicano activist Acosta (b. 1936) remains shrouded in myth, thanks to his mysterious disappearance (drugs? U.S. agents?) in 1974. In this brief but probing biographical essay, Stavans (The Latino Condition) observes that the legacy of Acosta, who wrote The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo, is more ideological than artistic. Indeed, Acosta symbolized the hopes and anxieties of his people; he adopted the appellation ``Zeta,'' or Z, a reference to such forebears as Zorro and Zapata, as a sign of his hyphenated self. Combining interviews and analysis, Stavans reconstructs Acosta's struggles with obesity, his tangled affections for white women, his mental instability and his emergence as a writer who wanted attention for his people as Chicanos--or Brown Buffaloes (indigenous but nearly extinct)--rather than as rainbow ``minorities.'' As the author notes, Acosta's concerns about identity and ethnicity presaged their emergence as mainstream national concerns. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1995
Release date: 10/01/1995
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 144 pages - 978-0-06-430985-1
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-0-8101-2028-0
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