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CRAZY LOCO LOVE by Victor Villaseñor

CRAZY LOCO LOVE

By Victor Villaseñor

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-55885-315-7
Publisher: Arte Público

An enthusiastic, undisciplined mess of an autobiography by Mexican American writer Villaseñor (Burro Genius, 2004, etc.).

Slightly less New Age–tinged and Mescalito-ish than its predecessor volumes, which have collectively been likened to a Chicano version of Roots, this installment highlights some of Villaseñor’s by now well-practiced narrative tics. One is the seemingly random use of Spanish mashed up in maddeningly repetitive English, as in, “He smiled the biggest smile I’d ever seen him smile and took me into his arms, hugging me in a big abrazo”—hugging him with a hug while smiling a smile, in other words. Another is Villaseñor’s near-trademark use of uppercase words in the middle of otherwise harmless sentences: “Why? Because CONTROL WAS EVERYTHING for him!” Such things notwithstanding, the prurient-minded reader will find Crazy Loco Love a departure in a new direction, for now the author, revisiting his late-adolescent self, becomes exceedingly interested in matters of the flesh: A ripe breast bursts out of a camisa, and it is cause for wonder, for “I’d never seen a girl’s naked breast before, and especially not one this large and up close to my face.” Said vision yields a physical reaction whereby the author’s Levis suddenly seem a touch too tight, and he experiences dizziness and shortness of breath; some 120 pages later he is wetting the bed, but not with urine; later he has finally entered the holy of holies, save with a twist that will raise a shock of recognition in fans of Chinatown. All this makes Villaseñor “crazyloco,” meaning, presumably, crazy in two cultures (though he swears off cultures at book’s end to declare himself simply a Human Being on the way to “BEING with all capitals”), or maybe, given his repetitive habits, simply crazy crazy.

Fans won’t mind, though everyone else will wish this book had had a firmer editor.