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Cover
Writing on the Edge
A Borderlands Reader
By Tom Miller
360 pp. / 6.12 in x 9.25 in / 2003
Paper (978-0-8165-2241-5)
  
Related Interest
  - Literature and Essays
  - Borderlands Studies


Twenty miles wide and two thousand long, the U.S.-Mexico borderland is a country unto itself that has been celebrated in the works of many writers—and not just those who call it home. Here artists
From Jack Kerouac to Los Pingüinos del Norte and [Graham] Greene to Flaco Jiménez—if they wrote about the border during the 20th century and Miller agreed with or laughed at them, they're probably here. 'Writing on the Edge' showcases some of the finest border literature—the best of which puts you at the Arizona fence or in Texas Big Bend Country, lost in the 2,000-mile-long stretch of in-between.

—Arizona Daily Star

The introduction is as good as some of the literature contained in the book—and this is a book that contains some real gems. . . . By the end of this century-long trek, one has been aesthetically well satisfied yet often left emotionally aghast-the kind of duality one experiences when admiring the sinuous speed of the rattlesnake as the fangs sink in.

—San Antonio Express-News

as disparate as Carlos Fuentes, Maya Angelou, and Allen Ginsberg have found literary inspiration, presenting the region through varied viewpoints that give border writing its unusual scope and texture.

This wide-ranging anthology—gathering short stories and essays, song lyrics and poems—offers readers a new appreciation of the border and its literature. Residents of the region may be startled to learn how many passers-by have been struck by this unruly slice of North America, while those living in other parts of the country may be surprised to find it more than a dateline for reports of smuggling and illegal immigration.

Collected here are both celebrated and underappreciated gems of American and Mexican literature depicting a region that for some writers represents an exotic land, for others home. Writing on the Edge juxtaposes passages by New Jersey poet William Carlos Williams and native songwriter Flaco Jiménez, British novelist Graham Greene and American poet Demetria Martínez, to show us the border from both sides and from a distance. In all of the selections, La Frontera looms larger than life—an energizing force that frames the lives of the characters living within its boundaries. Included in the book is a literary map of the border highlighting the sites with which each author is identified.

As editor Tom Miller observes, the very notion of literature in a region considered an "irrelevant nuisance" allows for more free-ranging creative output." Writing on the Edge sparkles with such creativity and invites readers to enjoy the best of two worlds—and of the world they share.


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