A collection of short stories
s by Jose Antonio Burciaga
. Subtitled "Chicanismo", the book deals with the more interesting and positive aspects of southwestern American culture, particularly the Mexican-American
experience. A sharp contrast to most of the other Chicano
/Chicana authors, Burciaga tells anecdotal, often humorous stories to illustrate cultural differences. The title "Drink Cultura" is a parody on "Drink Coca-Cola", and the cover art
This book is genuinely hilarious and extremely insightful. Rather than pouncing on caucasian America and deriding this -ism or that -ism, he explores the meaning of Chicano: its roots, its values, its mindset. An excellent read, doubly so if you're interested in practical aspects of southwestern American culture.
I can't resist a few quotes:
On publishing a magazine for the dead (cf. Life Magazine):
Why should morticians, embalmers, cemeteries, casket-makers, grave-diggers, cremators, and flower shops monopolize the industry? Death is not a dead-end road. There is a lot of money in death.
Some people would consider such a publication in bad taste. But I've never seen bad taste stop anyone from making money in this country. Look at the fast food business.
Moral, social, psychological, and economic causes would be well-served by such a periodical. It has gotten so expensive to die that many people hesitate to do it because of the expense alone."
Back home at the family table, we could always count on having two types of tortillas, de maiz or de harina, beans, and three types of chiles: rojo, verde, and fresco -- red, green, and the fresh, unadulterated jalapeño, in all of its luscious, dark green subtlety...
Father always went for the hottest one. If it was a dud, he would ask for another. Sometimes one chile was so hot that it took two meals to finish. Those gems were rare...
From time to time when I was in the military, mother would send me care packages of canned jalapeños en escabeche or other forms of canned chile salsas. I was desperate and celebrated those few hot times, shedding tears of jalapeño joy with other Chicano buddies.
Drink Cultura hoards information on a wide variety of interesting topics, with story titles like "A Mixed Tex-Cal Marriage", "Pendejismo", "The Great Taco War", and "Memories of a Juarez Nightlife." The refreshing thing about Burciaga is that he avoids blacking your eyes with racist anger, instead telling things like they are. Real life is always more interesting than someone else's made-up version.