Rolando Hinojosa (ee-noh-HOH-sah) views his various works as a single, ongoing novel. Entitled The Klail City Death Trip, this collective novel is still incomplete, although it constitutes a substantial body of writing: more than half a dozen works of prose fiction as well as Korean Love Songs from Klail City Death Trip, a work that intermixes prose and poetry. Each component of the collective work, excepting the mixed-genre work, is set in the area just north of the Mexican border in south Texas that is called “The Valley.” Korean Love Songs from Klail City Death Trip, although much of it is set in Korea during the 1950’s, focuses on military personnel conscripted from “The Valley,” as does The Useless Servants.
Rolando was the youngest of the five children of Carrie Smith and Manuel Guzmán Hinojosa. The family became U.S. citizens in the 1840’s when a new boundary line between Mexico and the United States fell three miles south of where Manuel’s family had lived for more than a century. Carrie Smith had arrived in the Valley when she was six months old and her father, a Union soldier during the Civil War, moved to the area around Mercedes.
Rolando was born in that area. Hinojosa’s mother, a schoolteacher who had been raised in a completely bilingual and bicultural environment, had a deep respect for Mexican culture. Both she and her husband, Manuel, insisted that their son attend private, Spanish-language schools so that he would develop an interest and pride in his Hispanic culture. Rolando thus absorbed the folklore and lifestyles of the Mexican Americans in the area,...
(The entire section is 677 words.)