It's hard to believe that de la Pe§a (Margins, 1992) tries to work terms like ``multicultural,'' ``racist,'' and ``homophobic'' onto almost every page, but she does in this wearying, preachy novel. De la Pe§a seems to think that the mere act of using words like ``dyke'' or ``tits and clits,'' and dropping concepts like AIDS, homophobia, sexual preference, racial discrimination, and solo sex into everyday conversation is groundbreaking when, in fact, it's all been done many times before. Her efforts would have been better spent on a more convincing narrative and stronger writing. Somehow, in de la Pe§a's world, novels are meant to send a message—the ``right'' message. And the story? Well...it's not so important. So we're stuck watching the mini-dramas of four queer Chicanas who mix music and social commentary in a singing group called the Latin Satins. Like: Will the celibate songwriter ever stop masturbating over her well-worn volume of lesbian erotica and actually get a real lover? (Of course. In fact, the stranger she sees across a lagoon one morning at the beginning of the book, the first woman she's attracted to since breaking up with her closeted ex two years before, turns out to be the same friend-of-a-friend trying to get a date with her throughout the story.) Or: Will the lead singer change her skirt-chasing ways to keep a stormy new affair with the bisexual backup singer from causing turmoil in the group? (Not an issue, since the backup singer's black rapper boyfriend comes home to reclaim her and their biracial daughter.) And don't expect any more creativity from the lyrics. Other than the sardonic ``Bushwhacker,'' it's just more of ``We must unite to write, create/Abolish stereotypes, fight hate.'' A broken record.
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