cover image Night Train to Tuxtla

Night Train to Tuxtla

Juan Felipe Herrera. University of Arizona Press, $39.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8165-1459-5

This gathering of poems, stories and verbal experiments inaugurates Arizona's Camino Del Sol series, to feature Chicana/Chicano writers. Like Herrera's (Exiles of Desire) four previous collections, it is verbally startling, as well as politically and socially challenging. Yet the book is straightforwardly autobiographical in its recollection of ``the swashbuckling Chicano sixties, an amorphous, open-ended moment of creative and political gestation.'' Herrera calls his work a ``Munch-Mariachi scream-a techno-urban culture gasp jammed up in the thorax.'' His heterodox style, full to the brim with images, owes something to magic realism, the Beat poets, and the storytelling tradition of Herrera's family. His descriptions of his travels are like a Chicano On the Road. The poems are looser than Herrera's previous work, which suits their more narrative content. Sometimes, however, one misses the intense surrealistic compression that has been his characteristic. When the poems drift into sketchiness, Herrera's rambling rhythms coast to a halt. (Sept.)