Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

College Issue 2014: Sell clothes. Plato’s Closet is a great place to take your gently worn apparel in exchange for cold, hard cash. They accept clothes, shoes and... By Brittany Minor 8/18/2014
Best Bookstore

Best Bookstore

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
A Small Slice of San Anto’s Spooky Haunts

A Small Slice of San Anto’s Spooky Haunts

Arts & Culture: San Antonio is one of the oldest cities in the United States, and its history stretches long before the people behind the American or Texas Revolutions... By Mark Reagan 10/15/2014

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Arts & Culture

SA's Ito Romo Debuts Illuminating Collection

Photo: Courtesy Photo, License: N/A

Courtesy Photo

In his first collection, titled The Border is Burning, South Texas author Ito Romo steps far from his magical novel El Puente and gives readers evocative vignettes of characters on the brink of alienation, addiction, desperation and loss. These stories are filled with the gritty, hard-boiled drama that characterizes the literary side of Chicano noir, a genre which has a visual mirror in the work of San Antonio artists such as Adán Hernandez, Alex Rubio and Vincent Valdez. (Little-known fact one: Romo, a professor at St. Mary’s University, is also a visual artist and once had a solo exhibition at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum curated by Valdez). (Little-known fact two: Valdez created the book jacket’s artwork).

Romo eases readers in with opening story “Baby Money,” a tale of juxtaposition in which a mother, confronted with a sideshow spectacle on the Mexican shores of the Rio Grande after a tumultuous flood, faces her fears while a young boy on the American side does the same. “Chicken Pot Pie” gives unforgiving and ultimately tragic insight into the exaggerated masculinity, or machismo, that runs rampant throughout South Texas. Take, for example, this sentence:­­ “He loved the boys, though, loved them in his own way—macho, hard. They were boys after all, not little sissies.”

The more punishing blows come quick and unadulterated in “Crank,” “Cut Ya” and “The Border is Burning.” These are the barefaced origin stories of South Texas and reminiscent of creation myths such as the Central American Popol Vuh, with yearning women, men and children revealed at their most raw and primitive states. When speaking about the character development in an interview with the Current, Romo said, “I’m writing about the disenfranchised … the people that we have conceptualized into welfare recipients, into the poor, lazy, drug addicts, into all of these concepts that are no longer real anymore. … I hope that people are at least able to think about that underworld that is not a part of ours.”

The overall process to complete The Border is Burning took Romo more than a decade. During that time he won a grant from the Artist Foundation of San Antonio in 2008 to complete the book and saw the story “Crank” published in Akashic Books’ first Lone Star Noir collection. Although The Border is Burning reads quickly, Romo gives readers an earthy, hyperrealistic view of the vast stretch of landscape along Interstate 35: from the arid and dangerous territory near the Rio Grande to the perilous neighborhoods of San Antonio and back. Romo said, “We start on the border and we end on the border.” If you’re looking for a slim but dense read to close out South Texas’ 100-degree summer heat, The Border is Burning is highly recommended.

The Border is Burning

By Ito Romo | University of New Mexico Press | $21.95 | 104 pp

Listen to Romo read "Vacation" below.

Recently in Arts & Culture
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus