cover image Muy Macho

Muy Macho

. Anchor Books, $16 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-385-47861-8

There have been a number of books about constructions of masculinity ever since Robert Bly's Iron John appeared in 1990. Here, Gonzalez has gathered some of the most widely recognized male American writers of Latino descent to contribute original essays that voice both personal and universal experiences of manhood, which, as for African American men, are plagued by cliches and misperceptions. What makes this an important addition to the discussion is its diversity. All the writers are poets and novelists and, most important, good storytellers, and this allows for writing that is free of the jargon so often found in other, often over-theorized considerations of the subject. The essays by Dagoberto Gilb and Rudolfo Anaya are particularly vibrant and successful attempts to talk about manhood through the relating of personal experience. Some pieces falter when they try to be revelatory. As when, Luis Rodriguez says, ""I'm pleased that Latinos and other people of color are increasingly participating in men's conferences. But I'm only in it for their revolutionary potential, for the life-liberating qualities of transformation embodied in them."" Crime, violence and abusive behavior toward women are some of the concerns cited by those interested in repairing the damage done by masculinity gone awry. But aren't these concerns for everyone? And is it necessary to exclude women in order to examine the minority male with truth and candor? History tells us that both genders are necessary for any revolution. (June)