May 29, 1996
About the Author
Alfredo Vea was born in Arizona in 1950. He served in Vietnam and his experiences as a young soldier form the basis of his third novel, Gods Go Begging. He is also the author of La Maravilla and The Silver Cloud Cafe.
About this Book
Evoking the magical realism of Latin American literature, this unconventional but compelling novel centers on a young Mexican-American boy and his grandparents, an Indian whose spirit soars outside his body and a Catholic witch doctor who keeps a jar of mystical oils next to her silver crucifix. The poor Arizona desert town that Beto and his abuelitos call home during the late 1950s is a multicultural Arcadia. Here black, white, Native American, Mexican and Chinese families--not to mention transvestites, prostitutes and a madwoman who recites the poetry of Andrew Marvell to her dogs--live in perfect harmony and mutual respect. Only a murder of passion and the reappearance of a long-lost dog named Apache mar this desert idyll. According to Beto's visionary grandmother, Josephina, whose gift for magic loosely stitches this scattered tale together, the dog is a maravilla , a creature who escorts the spirits from the land of the living to the underworld. Apache's return presages a death that spurs Beto toward maturity, as he learns reverence for his Native American forebears. Though the narrative line is tenuous and sometimes abruptly disjointed, Vea's shimmering prose, colorful characters and vivid imagery are as impressive as Josephina's dreams.