Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Hinojosa’s main thrust in this first volume of the “Klail City Death Trip” series has to do with establishing the sense of recurrence and continuity that characterizes his fictional (and actual) county in South Texas. The boundary changed in 1845, but the drawing of a line on a map cannot change the hearts, souls, or heritage of a citizenry.

Hinojosa’s sketches, if viewed in the light of the full series, also have to do with how people mature into what they eventually become. If his characters are inconsistent, Hinojosa makes no apology, saying merely that people are not consistent as they go through life. Some things about them remain the same, some change. In Hinojosa’s eyes, consistency of character is not a valid human trait.

In this volume, as in the others in the series, there is really no dominant character; even in Becky and Her Friends, Becky Escobar cannot be called a dominant character in the usual sense. Rather than writing about one or more protagonists, Hinojosa writes about a community of people. Readers meet most of them without being given much background: They just appear on the page engaged in living some small part of their lives.

Some critics disdain this approach, yet it replicates the way people come to know and understand society in real life. People happen upon scenes and draw from them what they can with the information available to them.

Those who judge Hinojosa negatively...

(The entire section is 460 words.)