Post 30

The whole ekonomy was built upon the backs of our people, so-called illegals. (Foster 75)

So many questions arise in Sesshu Foster’s Atomik Aztex. There are two realities taking place and I’m not sure which is the real one. Also, 3Turkey, Ray, Nakatl, Pirate, and Weasel. What is up with these names? In response to Wilfred’s question regarding Zenzontli’s business in a country that he despises, I feel that he was forced into this culture by default. Like the few Native Americans that survived the genocide and roam the streets in search for work, Zenzontli is left to fend for himself in a meat factory to support his family. He is the last of his kind and a victim of the “illegal” social hierarchy. He serves as the backbone of the economy, yet “legals” look down upon him and his posse.

Post 29

Karate bows of deep thanks to you, my colleagues, students and family. (Foster, Acknowledgements)

Sesshu Foster seems like quite the accomplished author. He has received several awards for his poetry and novels, particularly the “Believer Book Award” for Atomik Aztex. This is great and all, but the unavoidable question rises: a Japanese-American author? For a high school teacher in East L.A. it sounds like his surroundings really took a hold of him while writing this novel, evident through his vulgar writing style. By choosing to teach in the rough side of town, he has implemented the tone of characters brilliantly, all while maintaining the flow of the story. Foster reminds me of the Bolivian actor Edward James Olmos, from an old 80’s movie called Stand and Deliver, where he too teaches a rough high school course in the slums of L.A. There are quite a few similarities to him and this Hispanic Literature course as well:

Notice any similarities? It could be the glasses, haha. (WordPress Easter Egg)

Post 28

I am Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness of the Aztex and I am getting fucked in the head and I think I like it. Okay sometimes I’m not sure. But my so-called visions are better than aspirin and cheaper. (Foster 1)

What a brilliant opening. I was instantly hooked by the vulgar yet realistic tone that people use in contemporary discourse. Upon review of the first few pages, I took note of specific things that I either liked or stood out to me. They go as follows:

The narrator is extremely human.

Horrifically graphic in the slaughter house scene.

An abundance of swearing.

Science Fiction style of writing — a big plus.

Funny in a droll way.

Interesting outlook on life with the circular aspect to time.

Zenzontli is quite an emotional character.

This is certainly fictitious.

There are a lot of “C” replacements for “K”.

This novel is going to be great.

Post 27

This is a work of fiction. Readers looking for accurate information on Nahua and Mexica peoples or the Farmer John meat packing plant in the City of Vernon need to read non fiction. (Delbo, Note)

This little gem instantly gave me hope for Atomik Aztex. Although Sesshu Foster didn’t write this little segment himself, he comes off as the next Mark Twain after reading such a blunt “note” by another author. It is very reminiscent of the “notice” in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain warns:

PERSONS attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosec- uted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. (Twain, Notice)

Classic. Simply classic. You know something is going to go down in this read and Atomik Aztex is no exception.

Post 26

Yes, my dear ninnies, the Transformer is a transformed one, so that upon approaching the little tortured one with his clinical garlic–he feared that the case was one of vampirism–he knows what he’s doing. (Sarduy 36)

Cobra, Cobra, Cobra. What in the blue hell is going on in this book? After the initial read, I wasn’t sure whether these characters were in some kind of freak show or not… I guess they are. Cobra’s sex change sounds brutal and disgusting. I’m convinced that Severo Sarduy is either on drugs or has a demented imagination to come up with this stuff. What a weird and boring read. Hopefully flowers won’t grow out of my feet anytime soon.

Post 25

They walked south and off the page, leaving no footprints that Saturn could track. There would be no sequel to the sadness. (Plascencia 245)

I’m not sure what to make of this book. I enjoyed the sci-fi element of the novel, yet it failed to keep my interest the whole way through. Once I found out about Saturn’s true identity, Guillermo Samperio’s “She Lived in a Story” instantly came to mind. Something about the author of a book or director of a movie making an presence in their own work has always appealed to me. Quentin Tarantino appearing in Pulp Fiction is another example in film. Somehow, I’m happy there won’t be a sequel to The People of Paper. Overall, I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 mechanical tortoises.

Post 24

Saturn remembered those days of sadness, when he trudged two miles through the snow for bread and milk and then returned with frozen feet, soot on his coat and boots, to a house littered with honeybees. (Plascencia 236)

Focalization in Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper is apparent internally and externally. Although Little Merced tells the reader about her internal thoughts, Saturn on the other hand, is strangely focalized externally. The decision to delve into the thoughts of this little girl and view her father through a third-person perspective  serves as an interesting literary technique. It gives the reader the best of both worlds by juxtaposing the reader’s understanding of the situation with the actual character’s thoughts. However, I question Plascencia’s reasoning for choosing each character’s focalization the way he did. As interesting as Little Merced’s thoughts are, it would be quite interesting to see what goes on in Saturn’s crazy head.

Post 23

“So this is a thought,” the Baby Nostradamus said, speaking not with his lips but by touching Little Merced’s palm. “Right now Saturn can see it. He can see anything that you or I think, but we have the power to hide ourselves without using lead.”

And so the Baby Nostradamus demonstrated, concealing what was a perfectly legible and discernible thought:

IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

     IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

     IIIIIIIIIIII

     IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

On page 160, Baby Nostradamus once again expresses himself telepathically, this time to Little Merced. Moments such as these are reminiscent of the supernatural writing style of Gabriel García Márquez. In fact, this entire novel is evocative of García Márquez’s work. Salvador Plascencia has a knack for making surreal happenings sound normal such as Baby Nostradamus, a mentally retarded baby, communicating to Little Merced through her palms, all while Saturn is completely capable of observing the telepathic thoughts each of them withhold. All of this surrealism must be a metaphor for something else.

Post 22

But once Federico de la Fe retreated into the lead shell, safely hiding from view and refusing to reemerge until the weight from the air was lifted, Saturn withdrew into his orbit and faded into the blur of the chalky galaxy (Plascencia 30).

Something about Saturn just seems plain off. He urinates himself while his wife is in bed with him and somehow manages to keep her as his wife as long as he does. Merced isn’t exactly a genius herself if she’s ignorant enough to leave her own daughter in the hands of this weirdo. Either she is incompetent or she simply doesn’t care for Little Merced’s well-being. Saturn is definitely not fit to be a parent. Although he may be loving toward Little Merced, he is not all with it. By leaving his daughter alone while he retreats to a mechanical tortoise’s shell, Saturn shows a lack of competency and bravery. He comes off as a coward, always hiding from whoever he thinks is watching him. Maybe they call him Saturn because he comes from outer space.

Post 21

I started the game and the first card I drew was:

Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper consists of several images scattered throughout the book. The images serve as a visually enthralling aspect to the novel, providing the readers with something to reinforce their own representations of elements within the novel such as an “EL DIABLITO” card. When Saturn and Little Merced play lotería, their luck is so rotten that Saturn believes an “evil omen” is at work. When will these guys catch a break?