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Two Books for New Year


Translation Nation by Héctor Tobar. Translation Nation shows us the new reality of America, one in which Latino Americans are becoming the majority. “Today,” Tobar notes, “Los Angeles and California are quietly exporting their people and their way of life eastward across the continent.” In one account after another, from that of the couple who work in a Tyson chicken plant in Alabama, where the author goes “undercover” as a factory worker, “hoping to see America through the innocent eyes of the wandering migrant,” to the story of the marine from Guatemala who dies in the Gulf war, Tobar vividly and movingly captures the conflict between the immigrant ideal to which America has always aspired and the presiding white culture’s deep ambivalence about the immigrant presence.

How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish. Unlike most teachers and writers of grammars, Fish neither surveys the parts of speech nor regales us with a list of dos and don’ts; instead, he provides us with a clear, concise definition of what a sentence is: “a structure of logical relationships.” His reason for doing so is both theoretical and practical: “Technical knowledge, divorced from what it is supposed to be knowledge of, yields only the illusion of understanding.” Merely memorizing the difference between subjects and objects or the rules for semi-colon usage won’t do us any good, and may even lead us astray, if we have not first grappled with sentences as sentences.


4 Responses

  1. Interesting books. In 2013, I intend to read a lot of non-fiction. I hope I succeed.

  2. Happy New Year Matt! I am looking forward to your thoughts on Translation Nation.

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