Saturday, August 12, 2006

Luis Urrea and Charles Bowden

sometimes i tend to obsess over a particular author or theme – i’ve read more books on Vietnam than most people – both non-fiction and fiction for instance. lately though, i’ve gotten my hands on most of the books by Luis Alberto Urrea and Charles Bowden.
the list goes something like this:

Luis Alberto Urrea:

1) Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border
2) The Devil’s Highway: A True Story
3) By the Lake of Sleeping Children
4) In Search of Snow: A Novel
5) Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life
6) Six Kinds of Sky
7) The Hummingbird’s Daughter

The Hummingbird’s Daughter is why i started this list really. it’s probably one of the most beautiful books i’ve ever read. Urrea’s writing grabs you by the arm and puts you in your most favorite chair and the next thing you know it’s thursday and you’re starving. i felt like everything i had to do while reading this book (like shower, go to work, walk the dog, etc.) was a major inconvenience and i was more than mildly exasperated by them all. does anyone else get like this? it doesn’t have to be about books mind you, it could be about oh i don’t know – watching the westminster dog show on TV or new music. anything.

OK. as for Charles Bowden. he’s a journalist with the heart of a poet. for real. he writes non-fiction accounts on topics people generally don’t want to hear about, let alone learn more of. but once you start reading, you just get hooked and by the end of one of his books you’ve learned, by osmosis really, things about the extinction of bats in the southwest and the mexican/american drug trade and people’s lives that you’d never heard of before like (Lionel) Bruno Jordan from El Paso, Texas and his family. all true, but told with a feeling almost of desperation that these things, people, places not be erased or worse, never known about in the first place. do yourself a favor and pick up a few of these books. you won’t be sorry, i promise. and if you don’t already have a library card, GET ONE, because books are expensive! the cool thing about using the library is that if your branch doesn’t have what you’re looking for, chances are another one does and you can request it delivered to your branch. amazing, no?!

Charles Bowden:

1) Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family
2) A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior
3) Blood Orchid: An Unnatural History of America
4) Trust Me: Charles Keating and the Missing Millions
5) Blue Desert
6) Desierto: Memories of the Future
and his first book (re-visited)
7) Killing the Hidden Waters

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