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Arturo Islas: The Uncollected Works written by Frederick Luis Aldama


Arturo Islas: The Uncollected Works written by Frederick Luis Aldama


Prolific poet, essayist, and short story writer, Arturo Islas (1938-1991) is well known for his two insightful novels, The Rain God and Migrant Souls. His untimely death to AIDS truncated a productive and influential career that has left an unbridgeable gap in Latino letters. Islas was a dedicated, thoughtful, and style-conscious writer who promoted a sense of responsibility to community and art for both writers and critics. The quality of his commitment was matched by the example he set in delving into the aesthetics and psychology of gay creativity, an exploration that took him to uncompromising confrontations with his own traditional upbringing. Islas has made his mark as a writer of the U.S.-Mexico border and a leader at the forefront of exploration of social, psychological and philosophical boundaries. As a Chicano from El Paso and a gay Latino writer, Islas surmounted many boundaries, borders and established roles; in this, he is a standard-bearer for all of Latino literature. A seasoned scholar and professor in the English Department at Stanford University for most of his professional life, Islas maintained an extensive collection of works, records, and papers. The present volume is the product of another Stanford graduate, Frederick Luis Aldama, who combed through the Islas archive and recovered the short fiction, poetry, and essays on Chicano letters that Islas did not have the opportunity to publish. Aldama has organized these materials and edited them so that they may be accessible and "broaden the vision of Arturo Islas as writer and thinker."


Aldama (English, University of Colorado) presents unpublished short fiction, poetry, and essays by Islas (1938-1991), a gay Chicano writer best known for his novels The Rain God and Migrant Souls. An introduction discusses Islas' poetic form and narrative technique and his place in Chicano literature, and a chronology outlines major events in his life. Annotation ©2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Library Journal

Most notably the author of The Rain God and its sequel, Migrant Souls, gay Chicano writer Islas had, at his death from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991, a trove of unpublished material (52 boxes), both fiction and nonfiction. Aiming to "stretch and broaden" our perception of Islas as writer and thinker, editor Aldama (English, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) here presents a collection of Islas's recovered work-short stories, poetry, and essays on Chicano letters-that he never had the opportunity to publish. Turning early to the world of books as an escape from his mounting array of physical disabilities (among them polio), Islas entered Stanford on scholarship and took a course from Hortense Calisher in creative writing and one from Yvor Winters in leading American poets. He later became the first Chicano to earn a Ph.D. from Stanford, where he was eventually promoted to associate professor of English. Refusing to buckle under his knowledge of being HIV-positive, Islas spent the last couple of years of his life participating in numerous scholarly activities, the fruit of which is included in this collection. The essays and lectures on Chicano literature are admirably direct and clear, while the fiction and poetry stems largely from gay culture and may be a revelation to some readers. On the whole, the volume certainly demonstrates why Islas has become a beacon and a model for younger gay writers. Recommended for libraries with holdings in gay and Chicano literature.-Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, MO Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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