“[Baca] continues to mine his experience, exploring conflicts between the rich traditions of Chicano culture and a modern world impatient with them. . . . His imagery. . . is always striking.” Joan Keener, Entertainment Weekly
The Importance of a Piece of Paper
978-0-8021-4181-1 • $12.00 • Paperback • Feb. 2005
Confirming his status as a writer of remarkable versatility and wisdom, award-winning poet and memoirist Jimmy Santiago Baca “continues to mine his experience, exploring conflicts between the rich traditions of Chicano culture and a modern world impatient with them” (Entertainment Weekly) in his widely praised debut collection of short fiction.
In the title story, two siblings must face the brother who has betrayed them by selling his share of the family land and forsaking a centuries-old land grant, leaving an entire community vulnerable. In “The Three Sons of Julia,” a long-suffering mother, whose one request is that all her sons come home to the barrio for the Fourth of July, watches her dream shatter as two of her sonsone a successful businessman with a white wife and the other a hard-drinking ex-connearly destroy her house, and each other, by the night’s end. In “Runaway,” a young orphan discovers the consolations of fraternity when he is forced to care for a boy whose circumstances are even more dire than his own.
Baca’s prose is sensuous and immediate, calling forth the smells of the fresh summer sage in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos and the stale air in an isolation cell of an Arizona prison with equal facility. Merging a refreshing innocence with a profound understanding of the world’s brutality, The Importance of a Piece of Paper is a daring and arresting work that is at once fearless, tender, and inspiring.