Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Oscar “Zeta” Acosta’s first novel, The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo, is a fictional journey through many facts of his life. His tale is vulgar, gross, obscene, frankly carnal, truly pained, wildly raucous, and funny in turns. Acosta’s anti-intellectual stance and his rejection of literary convention express the shock and chaos he invokes to undo his own assimilation, re-create his life, and construct for himself a new and revitalizing identity. Acosta declares his novel an autobiography to dramatize the powers of artistic transformation and re-creation that Chicanos can apply to their lives. One’s identity, like a novel, is a work of art.
On Monday morning, July 1, 1967, Acosta is a lawyer with one year’s experience in an antipoverty agency in Oakland, California. Born in El Paso, Texas, and long a resident of California, Acosta feels increasing tensions between his Mexican ancestry and his personal and professional assimilation into mainstream American culture. He bursts with self-loathing; he sees himself as a little brown Mexican boy in a barrel-bellied, sweating, tormented wild Indian adult body. Crazed with tranquilizers, alcohol, and the bad food he uses to appease his ulcer, Acosta snaps when he discovers his secretary Pauline has died. He walks away from his work and his life.
His quest takes him from California through the Southwest to his birthplace in El Paso, Texas. Then he goes to Mexico, where he recounts...
(The entire section is 369 words.)
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