March 12, 1999

Book Review

Short Stories, Novelas and Other Uncivil Actions

Title: Uncivil Rights & Other Stories
By: Nash Candelaria
Published: November 1998, Bilingual Review/Press.
136 pp. Paper back only: $12.00
ISBN 0-927534-83-5

By Dan Muñoz

Nash Candeleria, a descendant of one of the founders of Albuquerque in 1706, has written a collection of short stories that belay his roots. One opens the first page expecting a collection of stories that would be rooted in the Mexican Culture. It is a pleasant surprise to find his novella and short stories that are instead rooted in a cultural crossover vista. Mexican metaphor mixes with American kitsch easily. He creates linguistic analogies that make the transition from Mexican linguistic symbols of understanding to those of contemporary American culture.

Uncivil Rights, a novella, carries the reader, who may not have been a participant in El Movimiento, through Alfonso Pena's need and necessity to protest and fight against the system which he views as unjust and oppressive. Candeleria juxtaposes Pena's view of society against that of his second cousin Irene Bustamante who embodies the mores and perspectives of her generation. The battle and struggle to gain an understanding of Pena's driving force as opposed to his educated cousin Irene. The ending and resolution of this struggle between the old dionosaur moved by emotion and his cold calculating Cousin caught up in the 90's culture.

It is clear that the Novella and the other six short stories are an effort by Nash Candelaria to help today's Hispanic find himself in the culturally diverse life that he finds himself in and attempt to make sense of it based on his past and the present. Nash manages to do so by using humor and common sense. He makes it clear that there isn't too much that really separates us. We may come from differing ethnic-racial groups but here in America we have all become `mongrelized' in that we all share a little bit of all those that are reared in the culture mix that is America.

Ash Candelaria has received numerous awards and recognition for his historically novels that dealt with the Southwest: Memories of the Alhambra (1977), Not by the Sword (1982), Inheritance of Strangers (1985), and Leonor Park (1991).

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