Espinoza, Alex 1971-

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Espinoza, Alex 1971-

PERSONAL:

Born 1971, in Tijuana, Mexico. Education: University of California, Riverside, B.A.; University of California, Irvine, M.F.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Riverside, CA.

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, and educator. English instructor at a community college in CA. Has worked variously as a gardener, a retail manager, a used appliance salesman, and an egg handler on a chicken farm.

WRITINGS:

Los Santos De Agua Mansa, California (novel), Random House (New York, NY), 2007, published as Still Water Saints, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to books, including the "Chicano Chapbook Series." Contributor to periodicals, including Salon.com and the New York Times Magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

Alex Espinoza is a novelist and educator whose debut novel, Still Water Saints, was published simultaneously in English and Spanish editions, which Austin Chronicle interviewer Belinda Acosta observed is "unusual for a first novel." In the book, Espinoza "vividly brings a small Southern California town to vibrant life," commented Deborah Donovan in Booklist. Protagonist Perla Portillo is the owner of the town botanica, a shop selling herbal medicines. Drawing from a variety of religious and magical traditions, Perla dispenses wisdom, prayers, herbs, teas, and other preparations that treat ailments ranging from skin irritation to kidney stones. Among the residents who come to Perla for help are Rosa, a plump cashier who wants to lose weight and discover her purpose in life; Juan, whose father's death has caused him to withdraw emotionally; Shawn, an addict who desperately wishes for stability and calm in his life; and Rodrigo, a fifteen-year-old boy who has fallen in with a group of young men targeted by pedophiles and who, after escaping their grasp, now fears that his life is in danger. As the diverse personalities and problems make their way in and out of Perla's shop, she finds herself in the position of reinventing her position in the community in order to adapt to the inevitability of modern changes.

"Espinoza's stunning debut is not exactly a linear novel or a linked collection of tales. Rather, he crams a generations-spanning cast of characters and more than half a dozen discrete stories into a deliciously precarious whole," observed Ariel Swartley, writing in Los Angeles Magazine. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "a kaleidoscopic portrait of a Southern California town whose nexus is an indomitable botanica owner." Espinoza "handles the proceedings with a steady, well-rounded reportage that suits the story," noted a Publishers Weekly critic. Donovan called Espinoza "a refreshing new writer."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Austin Chronicle, March 1, 2007, Belinda Acosta, "Skewed Expectations," interview with Alex Espinoza.

Booklist, November 15, 2006, Deborah Donovan, review of Still Water Saints, p. 25.

Entertainment Weekly, February 2, 2007, Allyssa Lee, review of Still Water Saints, p. 128.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2006, review of Still Water Saints, p. 1032.

Library Journal, January 1, 2007, Sofia A. Tangalos, review of Still Water Saints, p. 91.

Los Angeles Magazine, February 1, 2007, Ariel Swartley, "Storehouse of Magic: With His Debut Novel, Still Water Saints, Alex Espinoza Casts a Spell over the Immigrant Experience," p. 64.

Publishers Weekly, October 9, 2006, review of Still Water Saints, p. 33.

ONLINE

World Humhttp://www.worldhum.com/ (February 26, 2007), "Alex Espinoza: A Return to Michoacán," profile of Alex Espinoza.

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Espinoza, Alex 1971-

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