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TriangulationsNarrative Strategies for Navigating Latino Identity$
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David J. Vázquez

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816673261

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816673261.001.0001

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Crazy for the Nation

Crazy for the Nation

Piri Thomas, Oscar “Zeta” Acosta, and the Urban Outlaw

(p.61) 2 Crazy for the Nation

David J. Vázquez

University of Minnesota Press

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new generation of Latina/o authors including Piri Thomas and Oscar “Zeta” Acosta drew from the oppositional strands of the narratives of previous Latina/o authors, further transforming them in their personal narratives. Thomas’s Down These Mean Streets (1967) and Acosta’s The Revolt of the Cockroach People (1989b) utilize narrative strategies that challenge the foundations of democracy and its political organizations through the textual narration of their individual lives. Their works demonstrate direct engagements with insurgent nationalism, formulating new conceptions of what it means to be a revolutionary subject while also revising concepts of community and national belonging. This chapter studies how Thomas and Acosta triangulate their multifaceted outlaw subjectivities—the urban gangster and vato loco (crazy guy)—to understand how they pose alternatives to liberal political notions of self, community, and action.

Keywords:   Piri Thomas, Oscar Zeta Acosta, personal narratives, Down These Mean Streets, The Revolt of the Cockroach People, narrative strategies, insurgent nationalism, revolutionary subject, national belonging, urban gangster

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