November|December 2015 Good Reads

New books of interest to the Longhorn Universe

Texas Mexican AmericansTexas Mexican Americans & Postwar Civil Rights

by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, BJ ’76

Public schools in Alpine were segregated until 1969, more than a decade after the Supreme Court ruled that the practice was unconstitutional. Integration came only after years of work by Mexican-American legislators, activists, and families. Stories like this are little-known but key to the history and culture of Texas Mexican-Americans, argues UT journalism professor Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez. Rivas-Rodriguez is the founder of an oral history project that records the stories of Mexican-American veterans and civil rights leaders, and her sixth book brings their voices to a wider audience.

 

St Marks is DeadSt. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Street

by Ada Calhoun, BA ’00
Beats and hippies, punks and hardcore musicians, artists and writers have all called St. Marks Place home—and in a lament that will sound familiar if you’ve spent much time in Austin, they all pronounced the Manhattan street dead and uncool as soon as the next generation moved in. Calhoun, who grew up in the neighborhood, lovingly depicts a community that has incubated bohemians and outsiders for decades.
 

Invisible in AustinInvisible in Austin: Life and Labor in an American City

by Javier Auyero

As Austin’s economy booms and the cost of living rises, many working-class and immigrant residents are finding it harder to get by. UT sociologist Javier Auyero and his students spent a year following their subjects—a Nepalese taxi driver, a Mexican housecleaner, an African-American plumber—and documenting their struggles in a style that feels more personal than scholarly. The result is 11 vivid, accessible portraits of life on the margins.

 

deliciousDelicious Foods

By James Hannaham, MFA ’06

This surreal, disquieting novel will give you a new
understanding of the ripple effect caused by the intertwined social ills of systemic racism, drug addiction, and the seedy farmworker industry. Darlene is a mother, addict, and fruit picker for a company called Delicious Foods, where she works in return for drugs. A few chapters are even narrated by the drug itself, a high-wire act that Hannaham pulls off smoothly. The plot couldn’t be bleaker, but the unexpected, slightly off-kilter prose delights even as it plumbs the darkness.

 

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