First Look: Tortured Barrio Songs

Reyes Cardenas, Chicano poet, has a new book out with FlowerSong Books. Tortured Barrios Songs is really not one book, but a trinity of three books, each tied to and adding to the understanding of the others. Cárdenas brings to bear, once again, his signature no-holds-barred humor, crossed with a stinging criticism of the injustices of being poor in America, something reflected sharply in all three sections of the book:

  • Andrés Sobaco, El Numbnuts, a flowing and painfully beautiful novel-in-verse set in the West Side barrios of San Antonio
  • El Ocho Patas, a darker, more philosophical and metaphorical tale of the man with eight legs
  • Canciones Desesperadas, a collection of poems unveiling the formative root experiences of the poet and other real people in his Vonnegut-style karass of a barrio

Together, they make a book both irreverent and yet somehow filled with respeto for life and the universe. The tender sacrileges with which he addresses God, or Christ, or La Llorona, remind us of a man whose tragedies have been so crushing that the hope within him has become even more persistent, and even more resilient.