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Alex Espinoza

Författare till Still Water Saints: A Novel

4+ verk 208 medlemmar 8 recensioner

Om författaren

Foto taget av: Community of Writers at Squaw Valley

Verk av Alex Espinoza

Still Water Saints: A Novel (2007) 90 exemplar, 3 recensioner
The Five Acts of Diego Leon: A Novel (2013) 34 exemplar, 2 recensioner
The Sons of El Rey (2024) 18 exemplar, 2 recensioner

Associerade verk

Speculative Los Angeles (2021) — Bidragsgivare — 41 exemplar, 14 recensioner
Palm Springs Noir (2021) — Bidragsgivare — 35 exemplar, 15 recensioner
The Best American Mystery and Suspense Stories 2022 (2022) — Bidragsgivare — 33 exemplar, 4 recensioner


Allmänna fakta




The Publisher Says: From the American Book Award–winning author comes a multi-generational epic spanning 1960s Mexico City to contemporary Los Angeles, following a family of Luchadores as they contend with forbidden love and family secrets.

Ernesto and Elena Vega arrive in Mexico City where Ernesto works on a construction site until he is discovered by a local lucha libre trainer. At a time when luchadores—Mexican wrestlers donning flamboyant masks and capes—were treated as daredevils or rockstars, Ernesto finds fame as El Rey Coyote, rapidly gaining name recognition across Mexico.

Years later, in East Los Angeles Freddy Vega is struggling to save his father’s gym while Freddy’s own son Julian is searching for professional and romantic fulfillment as a Mexican American gay man refusing to be defined by stereotypes. The once larger-than-life Ernesto Vega is now dying, leading Freddy and Julian to find their own passions and discover what really happened back in Mexico.

Told from alternating perspectives, Ernesto takes you from the ranches of Michoacán to the makeshift colonias and crowded sports arenas of Mexico City. Freddy describes life in the suburban streets of 1980s Los Angeles and the community their family built as Julian descends deep into the culture of hook-up apps, lucha burlesque shows, and the dark underbelly of West Hollywood, The Sons of El Rey is an intimate portrait of a family wading against time and legacy, yet always choosing the fight.


My Review
: The very idea of luchadores is Exotic to me, in the settler-colonial sense. I am as far from a wrestling fan that it is possible for someone to be. So, well, what's the appeal of this story to someone like me?

The very idea of the immigrant journey.

Immigrants are the lifeblood of the US on economic and cultural levels. The country wouldn't exist without us. (The Native Americans would doubtless see this as a plus.) The present cultural conversation around immigrants and their role across the world demands that we see the actual, real humans in these roles not abstractions of Otherness. The best way I know to do that is to learn the stories that immigrants tell us. Author Espinoza, infant immigrant to the US, knows the life he's writing about as a grown queer man.

What he does in this novel is to open the world of men whose lives are lived in the weighty spotlight of expectations. The ones they have, the ones their families—born, chosen, made—have, the ones US culture imposes. Exploring that interplay is fertile ground for stories, for secrets, for endless surprises...mostly the surprise, evergreen, of how very much of a miracle it is that there are any adult survivors of childhood. Fathers aren't usually much good at parenting because, well, where would most men learn it? Immigrant fathers don't even have the acquisition of culture to pass down, so these luchadores are actually very lucky in that they have this familial tie to their fathers. Of course, the links in that chain are all shaped very differently. A gay son isn't going to follow his father into the family trade when it's so explicitly homophobic, is he. And, to be honoest, that surprises me: Lucha libre is vivid, male-centered, and as close to drag as it's possible to be without falsies and heels being involved. (Plenty of wigs, though.) It veers at the last second into that other drag-adjacent cosplay genre, the superhero/supervillain dichotomy.

The women in the story are peripheral, and that is (I believe) by design. If it's going to bother you not to read yet another take on immigrant mother pluckily overcomes cultural and patriarchal barriers story, there's shelves of books that will stroke your needy story parts. The existential stakes aren't, for once, set by the women but by and for men. The women aren't consulted or considered. How very unexaminedly patriarchal. You've been warned.

For #PrideMonth, it's a dads-and-lads custom-made celebration of the bond we either fail to form or miss feeling; it's a clear-eyed look at the gay-son-defies-tradition tale so popular in our group; and a call to acceptance of nonwhite men in our wider community. It's also, in Author Espinoza's award-winning tradition, a delight to read on the language level. Don't expect a deep dive into the world, and language, of the luchadores...our focus is definitely on the people, the family they form and change. They live in the intense, hyperreal fakeness of lucha libre, but they spend little time examining it. As you do. That means as a consequence that the reader doesn't examine it, either. Go in to the read knowing what's on offer and avoid disappointment, says me.

The Mexican backstory is, in my view, scanty. It's not meant to be a's not the story solely of El Rey Coyote...but it does seem to me that another chapter in Michoacán would've been very welcome. The ending is rushed, and contains a plot thread that's...obscure...for the vast majority of the book. That missing half-star is down to my sense that it was pretty much just sprung on me, though I hasten to say that it did not feel as though it was parachuted in from above. It just wasn't given any oxygen until the ending. Again, best to know now, not come up suddenly upon the end and think, "...wait...".

Not my perfect read, but one I enjoyed very much indeed. A terrific #PrideMonth read.
… (mer)
richardderus | 1 annan recension | Jun 12, 2024 |
I suspect that Alex Espinoza's The Sons of El Rey may wind up being my favorite read of the summer. It's a wonderful read, despite the fact the the novel's characters go through some decidedly un-wonderful experiences, but there's also joy—a lot like real life as we know and live it.

The novel tells the story of three generations of a family that becomes deeply involved in Lucha Libre. Ernesto, the patriarch of the family, is scouted in Mexico City as a potential Luchador. The work is demanding, bruising, exhilarating, and unpredictable. In East Los Angeles, his son Freddy (Alfredo) also becomes a luchador, less successful than his father, but competent; he also is trying to keep afloat the gym Ernesto founded. Freddy's son Julián will never be a luchador. He's fighting his own battles as a gay man of color trying to find a place for himself in the world. He's got an advanced degree and ekes out a living as a teacher of college composition, picking up classes wherever he can at a variety colleges and spending as much time on the freeways as he does in the classroom.

Each of these three men—and other characters as well, inclluding some of the women—narrate parts of this novel. No one has the complete story, and as the narrators alternate family secrets surface again and again. It's the unfolding of these secrets and the ways the characters manage their new knowledge that make this book so wonderful—and the fact that the secrets some of the characters uncover have to do with their own identities. You'll find things to like and dislike about every character, but whether you're liking or disliking them, you'll be glad you're journeying with them across these three generations.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.
… (mer)
Sarah-Hope | 1 annan recension | Jun 4, 2024 |
The history of cruising from England in the 1600’s to the current practice is a fascinating discourse on ways in which gay men meet and have sex in public bathrooms, bookstores, and parks. Alex Espinoza explains how this behavior has evolved from the pre 1969 closets era to stonewall gay pride and through the AIDS epidemic. His perspective as a “brown” person gives him a unique vision. He writes that “Latino queers are able to not only challenge the foundational dogmas of religion, family and nationhood inscribed onto the body since birth, but also to dismantle cultural appropriations and racial assumptions by calling attention to their existence.” I know pretty heavy stuff. But his writing clearly documents cruising in all forms along with the differences of the coming out process between white gays and queer people of color.… (mer)
GordonPrescottWiener | Aug 24, 2023 |
Still Water Saints by Alex Espinoza

★★ ½

Synopsis on Amazon: Still Water Saints chronicles a momentous year in the life of Agua Mansa, a largely Latino town beyond the fringes of Los Angeles and home to the Botánica Oshún, where people come seeking charms, herbs, and candles. Above all, they seek the guidance of Perla Portillo, the shop’s owner. Perla has served the community for years, arming her clients with the tools to overcome all manner of crises, large and small. There is Juan, a man coming to terms with the death of his father; Nancy, a recently married schoolteacher; Shawn, an addict looking for peace in his chaotic life; and Rosa, a teenager trying to lose weight and find herself. But when a customer with a troubled and mysterious past arrives, Perla struggles to help and must confront both her unfulfilled hopes and doubts about her place in a rapidly changing world.

Let me just start by saying that this book had quite a bit of potential but that’s about it. The characters are rarely engaging (except for Perla) and are fairly flat. You do see the subtle connections between everyone in these little snippets of their lives…but it’s pretty subtle, you really have to search for the connections through it all. In a world where I find that many books would be better if they just shortened them a bit, this one would have been better if it was longer, allowing the character to grow much more than we see at all. I may have even rated this book a bit higher if it weren’t for several obvious grammar and spelling issues. I’m sorry, but if you are going to write a book (and is also an editor himself) and have it professionally published (in this case through Random House), there should NEVER be a mistake as obvious as “their” where a “there” should appear (In this case “Has their been any change…”). Made me shudder and was enough for me to actually give a lower rating for the book, especially since it wasn’t the only major mistake. A good attempt at a first time author but it could have been so much more.

… (mer)
UberButter | 2 andra recensioner | Feb 9, 2016 |


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