Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: Ugh It’s Pretty Bad

I don’t know if it was the cover or the title—both dripping with the promise of wet, steamy love—that first drew me in.

The plot? Drug lords young love blah blah blah all you need to know is these three words: heavy-handed interracial relationship. Ok, so I’m not actually reading it. I found it in a bin of abandoned books and I'm skimming it for juicy lines like “Sure enough, I’ve got la tengo dura* in front of Kiara,” “She’s got her hands full with a hot Latino every night,” and “Are…we…about to get into…trouble?” (NONE of the ellipses were added.) There are a lot of dark Mexican eyes filling with desire, a lot of dropped g’s (the protagonist engages in fightin’ and dancin’ and drinkin’), and a lot of painfully gratuitous Spanish. We need to be reminded every few paragraphs that Carlos is a Mexicano, whether that be achieved by referring to people as amigo and chica, or having him reminisce about the hard-knock life of drugs and loose women he led before coming to America.

There’s something about Spanish words inserted into text, and then subtly translated via context, that really turns me off. It reeks of sneaky education, Dora-the-Explorer-style, which I hate. “My child may think he’s reading a fun little story about a cucaracha, but he’s actually expanding his brain by learning the Spanish words for “cockroach,” “flame-thrower,” and “prostitute!” Bleach. It’s so patronizing. If I were a “fired-up Mexicano,” (phrase taken from “Rules of Attraction”), I think I’d be offended at all this lukewarm, diluted treatment of my language. Let’s be honest here: NO ONE HAS EVER LEARNED SPANISH IN SCHOOL. It takes a personal drive and deep, meaningful exposure to master a language, and that’s not something you can pick up from scattered Spanish keywords or interracial make-out scenes where your fiery Latino lover murmurs, “Eres hermosa.” (That means “you’re beautiful,” betches!)

*Spanish a little rusty? I believe the author is trying to explain that our fearless protagonist is experiencing a phenomenon known as “morning wood;” however, I’m not sure the Spanish is correct, since la tengo dura seems to translate literally into “I have it hard,” which doesn’t exactly work with the English syntax of the sentence. Ah well. Young love! Whatchu gonna do about it?

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