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Banned Book Review: Bless Me, Ultima

March 21, 2006

75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya

Reason: obscene language and paganistic practices

I am sure that someone, somewhere, would be able to go on at length about the beauty and symbolism of this book for you.  Me?  My days of English lit are behind me.  I will say that the book is beautiful.  I will say that it is so packed with symbolism, that it spills forth from between the covers and drowns you in it.  And I will say that while I know all of that, the book was still pretty dull.

The story follows a 7 year old boy growing up in 1940s New Mexico as he struggles to find his place between the old world and the new, his mother’s farming family and his father’s cowboy friends, his family’s Catholic religion and his people’s pagan roots.  The boy and his friends curse, beat each other up, and watch as people in their town are killed by men as well as magic.  Some of the reviewers have called this book a “Chicano Huck Finn.”  I think that the comparison does neither book any justice.  It would be like trying to compare the green farming fields to the wild desert.  Each is beautiful in its own way, and each must be experienced for yourself in order to truly understand them.

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