Friday, June 18, 2010

Luis Alberto Urrea: Across the Wire

In my effort to read all of my books, I inadvertantly picked up a book I've already read. Usually I can identify which books I've read by their covers: I know it's weird, but I have a very visual memory and even the color of the book is enough to tell me that I've read a book. This time my memory failed me. I am also never quite sure when reading if I've actually read a book till well into the book. Fortunately Urrea's "Across the Wire" was a fast read, and worth re-reading. I also vaguely remembered the name, and it turns out I've read another book of his, the novel "The Hummingbird's Daughter," which I remember enjoying, but can't be sure of, because I read too much to remember any book precisely. This is part of why I started blogging my book reviews, but since I can't find it here, I must have read it when it first came out, in 2006, before I started the blog.

"Across the Wire" is a series of short essays about Urrea's travels in the dumps of Tijuana with a missionary and the work they did there, the people they encountered, and the classic discord between the two sides of the border. The book is fastpaced and not really a thorough look at the issues, but paints vivid images for the reader, and I imagine even someone not obsessed with the border would be moved. Although published almost 20 years ago, it's still timely, and especially so with the move to further criminalize immigrants from Mexico and places further South in Arizona. Urrea touches on push/pull factors in the book, and it's hard to imagine anyone not desparate to get out of a life of trash collecting in a dump with no running water, no electricity, no medical services, etc, even if it means living "illegally" somewhere else. Urrea offers no solutions, just a bleak reality. He ends on a positive note, leaving the reader with a sense that something, even small scale, can be done. False hope or a good attitude? It's hard to know.

3 comments:

育財 said...

仇恨是一把雙刃劍,傷了別人,也傷了自己..................................................................

immsm said...

I have the similar problem - I read so much and I kept forgetting what I had read and often would start a book and then realize I'd already read it. I started keeping a reading journal and it helps me to keep track of what books I've read and how I felt about them. I found your blog through your profile on Flickr, which I found through a photo of Pfft (Jen), one of my contacts. Now I'll check out your photos too.
Wendy (immsm on Flickr)

thb said...

Okay, switch to a kindle and then you don't even get color, page counts, back covers, and smell...nada!