Books Acquired Recently: Erika Lopez Edition

I recently read Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes’s Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora, which discusses the work of Erika Lopez, a writer whom I had never heard of before. His description of Lopez’s work intrigued me because it involves a character who is a half Puerto Rican, half German Quaker. This hybrid identity is quite close to my Puerto Rican Mennonite one, as my mother’s ancestors came to Pennsylvania from Krefeld, Germany in 1710 and Mennonites are, along with Quakers, one of the historic peace churches. While I have read Mennonite texts depicting characters similar to me because of their queerness (most notably Stephen Beachy’s boneyard), I have never read a text that combines my queer and German identities with my Puerto Rican one, so I am quite excited to read Lopez’s work. I bought the three volumes of her Trilogy of Tomatoes from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers as an introduction to her oeuvre.

Lopez, Erika. Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing. New York: Simon & Schuster Editions, 1997.

—. Hoochie Mama: The Other White Meat. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

—. They Call Me Mad Dog! A Story for Bitter, Lonely People. New York: Simon & Schuster Editions, 1998.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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