The Five Acts of Diego León

Growing up in a rural village at the height of the Mexican Revolution, Diego León has many first loves: singing, dancing, and hearing the stories of his ancestors, the P’urhépecha. But when tragedy strikes, young Diego is sent to the city to live with his aristocratic grandparents, who insist he forget his roots and groom him to take over the family business. Under pressure to enter a profession—and a life—for which he cares nothing, and haunted by the violence once again erupting all around him, Diego flees his war-torn country to forge his own destiny.Diego arrives in Hollywood in 1927, when silent films are giving way to talkies, Prohibition is in full swing, and “Latin lover” types are sought out even as they are looked down upon. Working his way up in the movie business with talent and ingenuity, Diego soon figures out that getting one’s face on the silver screen has as much to do with what goes on behind the camera as what goes on in front of it. But the closer Diego comes to stardom, the more he finds that the past is not so easily escaped, as he is drawn again and again to the painful legacy of history and the wounds of his homeland.A sweeping, sensual novel of love, ambition, and identity, The Five Acts of Diego León bears all the marks of a classic Hollywood story: romance, betrayal, glamour, and an underdog hero to root for till the end.

Now available in paperback from LARB Books. Click here to purchase.

Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime

From ancient Greece to Grindr, the underground practice of cruising has changed in fascinating ways, and also not at all. Alex Espinoza takes readers on an uncensored journey through the underground, to reveal the timeless art of cruising. Combining historical research and oral history with his own personal experience, Espinoza examines the political and cultural forces behind this radical pastime. From Greek antiquity to the notorious Molly houses of 18th century England, the raucous 1970s to the algorithms of Grindr, Oscar Wilde to George Michael, cruising remains at once a reclamation of public space and the creation of its own unique locale—one in which men of all races and classes interact, even in the shadow of repressive governments. In Uganda and Russia, we meet activists for whom cruising can be a matter of life and death; while in the West he shows how cruising circumvents the inequalities and abuses of power that plague heterosexual encounters. Ultimately, Espinoza illustrates how cruising functions as a powerful rebuke to patriarchy and capitalism—unless you are cruising the department store restroom, of course.

Ahora disponible en español por Editoriales Dos Bigotes. ¡Haga clic aquí para comprar!

Still Water Saints

Still Water Saints chronicles a year in the life of Agua Mansa, a suburban town east of Los Angeles and west of the desert, home to school teachers and construction workers, middle managers and accountants, shoplifting speed addicts and overweight grocery clerks, Elvis fans and Madonna impersonators, Mexican immigrants and Chicana muralists, long-distance truck drivers and punk-loving tattoo artists. It’s also home to the Botánica Oshún and its owner, Perla Portillo. Perla has served the community for years, arming her clients with the tools to navigate all manner of crises, great and small. But when a boy with a troubled past arrives in her store, Perla must confront her growing doubts about her place in the world. Interweaving Perla’s story with those of her customers, the novel weaves a vibrant tapestry of intersecting lives in California’s rapidly-changing Inland Empire.Called a “stunning debut” by Los Angeles Magazine, “elegantly crafted” by the Washington Post, and “the beginning of a distinguished career” by New West, Still Water Saints was a selection of Barnes and Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” program in spring, 2007.