Xbox videogamer cholo cyberpunks. Infants who read before they talk. Vatos locos, romancing abuelos, border crossers and border smugglers, drug kingpins, Latina motorbike riders, philosophically musing tweens, and so much more.
The stories in this dynamic bilingual prose-art collection touch on the universals of romance, family, migration and expulsion, and everyday life in all its zany configurations. Each glimpse into lives at every stage—from newborns and children to teens, young adults, and the elderly—further submerges readers in psychological ups and downs. In a world filled with racism, police brutality, poverty, and tensions between haves and have-nots, these flashes of fictional insight bring gleaming clarity to life lived where all sorts of borders meet and shift.
Frederick Luis Aldama and graphic artists from Mapache Studios give shape to ugly truths in the most honest way, creating new perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about life in the borderlands of the Américas. Each bilingual prose-art fictional snapshot offers an unsentimentally complex glimpse into what it means to exist at the margins of society today. These unflinching and often brutal fictions crisscross spiritual, emotional, and physical borders as they give voice to all those whom society chooses not to see.
What The Critics Say
[email protected] Literatures
Long Stories Cut Short reads like an invitation from a trickster figure, as if a playful conductor were giving you deliberate doses of a larger tapestry, one that can only be fully understood within the ever-expanding canvas that is the reader’s capacity to imagine, create, and believe that what they are reading has a greater significance to their understanding of the world.
Santa Fe New Mexican
These bilingual stories are the work of a confident writer, one who is not fazed by social media but influenced by it, picking up poetry from Twitter and finding unexpected pathos in Instagram selfies.
Aldama desarrolla las historias de Long Stories Cut Short, partiendo de una realidad particular hasta que ésta alcanza un carácter universal.
Dagoberto Gilb, author of Before the End, After the Beginning
You want traditional border tales? Not even the storytelling here.
You want nostalgia and sweetness, colorful escape? Nope, won’t find that. What then? Aldama’s is graphic reality, in bold typeface, lines as abrupt as single words—go, allá, fast, ya.
Monica Brown, author of Gang Nation
Aldama pulls no punches with his panoply of characters surviving in the borderlands of the Americas. Long Stories Cut Short is a revelation—it reveals. A brilliant, manic, kaleidoscope of a book.
Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the United States
Aldama flashes through holy decay of urban ghosts still whisperin’ six feet under & those danglin’ 5′ 4″ above ground holding on to Xbox, domestic & city cancers of one type or another & puffy-gut boyfriend existences. This is a rare, veneer-stripped, cracklin’ kaleidoscope of lives: half midnight, half dawnlight (if you can locate it), leaking true life the way you don’t wanna see it (with steely-soul ink by Mapache Studios)—a half-nasty cup of Bukowski, an elegant shot of Kurosawa & an ant-horde dish of Buñuel. Buzzin’ from start to finish, an unexpected bilingual knock-out punch!
Erin McGraw, author of The Good Life
In Frederick Aldama’s Long Stories Cut Short, human lives tumble through a riot of possibility—jobs that materialize and then vanish, language that slides and elides, love that sometimes unexpectedly endures. To read this graceful, powerful book is to enter a heady universe where lives entangle, creating unexpected unions, and where language itself becomes invigorated, full of surprising resonance—sometimes witty, sometimes grief-soaked, always driven by Aldama’s sparkling intelligence.
David A. Colón, author of The Lost Men
Long Stories Cut Short makes the local massive and the massive local. The stories resonate as a chorus of soloists, with so much life to each voice. And from the visual poetry of ‘Cell 113 / Celda 113’ to the magic realism of ‘Six Feet Under / Dos metros bajo tierra,’ Aldama ranges widely through a re-envisioning of forms within borderland consciousness. Remarkable to think this impressive fiction is a debut.
Denise Chávez, author of The King and Queen of Comezón
This collection of tightwire tales where life is a daily balancing act asks, In what language do we articulate desire and need, love and hate? You choose. With polish and skill, the tale is told first in English, then in Spanish. Each version spins and swirls like carnival lights that form a backdrop for a living circus of souls. Aldama stuns, surprises, and delights. This is no small feat. He is a linguistic trapeze high-wire artist and delivers verbal theatrics, the likes of which will stay in your mind and heart for a very long time.
Michael Nava, author of The City of Palaces
These short fictions are like breaths, some deep and sinuous, some mere gasps. Beautiful, startling, disturbing, moving. They cut to the bone. A brilliant debut.
Francisco X. Stork, author of The Memory of Light
Each story is a pulse of light reflected in our multifaceted Latino experience and refracted by the music of our two languages to reveal a dazzling prism of happy-triste colors.
Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Water Museum: Stories
Every time the wizard called Aldama commends words to the page, something extraordinary happens. This time around, he makes things dance and levitate with his usual elegance. Highly recommended.
Aaron Michael Morales, author of Drowning Tucson
A powerful and unflinching look into the lives—sometimes ruined, sometimes glorious—of Latinos unnoticed amid the brushfire of current political discourse in the United States. These characters are as real as they are fleeting, important for what they reveal to readers in their brief existence. Aldama’s genre-mashing gift is a timely and much-needed addition to Latino letters. Powerful but not didactic. Emotional but not melodramatic. In short, real!
William Anthony Nericcio, author of Tex[t]-Mex
Aldama’s bilingual prose-graphics pieces create semantic and semiotic fusions that slip and slide in and through one another like the forked tongues of our fragmenting identities en la frontera. It’s a heady tonic, a disturbing prose tequila shot for next-gen readers. This adrenaline jab will have you itching for more.
Manuel Luis Martinez, author of Los Duros
Line by line, Aldama’s Spanish and English tongues vitally intertwine, exquisitely expanding the intrepid reader’s apprehension of new collective experiences and meanings. This is art at its mesmerizing best!
Daniel A. Olivas, author of The Book of Want
These bilingual miniatures are sinewy and sly, beautiful and brutal, never sanitized and always insightful. Aldama has created borderland fictions that burrow into our collective cerebral cortex to expand, morph, and taunt our smug understanding of the human condition. Illuminated like a subversive Bible, it’s as much a delight as it is a revelation.
Ayize Jama-Everett, author of The Liminal People
Long Stories Cut Short is no academic play with form and content designed to deliver some clever missive; these are tales told in languages and styles that their subjects could appreciate. Just as Lucia Berlin delivered tales of the addled ethnic proletariat, so too Aldama presents working-class Latino dispatch from the borders of acceptable subjectivity. To ignore his work is to ignore the lives of millions.
Fabio Chee, author of Pterodactilo
Acclaimed Latina/o pop studies critic Aldama now invites you to explore the lives of Latinas/os in the twenty-first century through a magical and thought-provoking series of stories about dreams cut short and life at the edge of the world.
Ilan Stavans, author of On Borrowed Words
In a world with a surplus of words (emotional chatter, media gossip, political rant, and artistic blah blah blah), Aldama masterfully uses just the right amount to build a thorny, multifaceted universe filled with complex, memorable characters. His acute sensibility and assured stroke, full of irony and pathos, provide much-needed air within a world of fiction constricted by meat-grinding writing programs that torpedo us with manufactured fiction at unprecedented rates. Aldama vitally reminds us that at the right time, one line, lovingly calibrated, is capable of wonders.
Ashley Hope Pérez, author of Out of Darkness
Long an important curator of border narratives, Aldama now makes his debut as one of its creators. In conversation with works like Tomás Rivera’s . . . Y no se lo tragó la tierra / . . . And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, Aldama draws on the tradition of fragmentary multivocal masterpieces to create flash fictions that invite attention to the particularity of borderized lives.
C. Dale Young, author of The Halo
In Long Stories Cut Short, abuelas, Pinochet, Rapunzel, and dirty old men collide to remind us that laughter transforms nothingness into a place of happiness, and . . . joy becomes contagious.