Alberto Álvaro Ríos

The following course listing is in three parts: a required reading list, a secondary reading list, and a song list. 


One might assert different seminal texts, but the following form a good, working core aimed at trying to get to the heart of the style while examining its different aspects.  The class begins by tracing some of the magical realism writers’ influences, particularly exploring Surrealism and other turn of the 20th century avant-garde movements and texts.  Along with books, we also look to other potential influences, particularly music.  The song list is similar to the secondary reading list: each student chooses and is in charge of one song, and everything that means.  The course will also explore relevant popular culture.—AR

Course Texts

1. Primary Reading List


In this approximate order, the required reading list will include, but not be limited to the following titles:


Manifestoes of Surrealism, André Breton

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

Another Republic, ed. by Charles Simic and Mark Strand

Magical Realist Fiction, ed. by David Young

Labyrinths, Jorge Luis Borges

Pedro Páramo, Juan Rulfo

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, Jorge Amado

The Eye of the Heart, ed. by Barbara Howes

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel


We will use the following book throughout the semester as a general sociological reference tool:

The Hispanic Way, Judith Noble & Jaime Lacasa.


2. Secondary Reading List


Students will be responsible for one of these books, to be determined in class:


Secret Weavers: Stories of the Fantastic by Latin American Women, ed. by Marjorie Agosín

Mrs. Vargas and the Dead Naturalist, Kathleen Alcala

*Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, Jorge Amado

Bless Me Ultima, Rudolfo Anaya

The Road to Tamazunchale, Ron Arias

Dom Casmurro, Machado de Assis

The Psychiatrist, Machado de Assis

El Señor Presidente, Miguel Ángel Asturias

Men of Corn, Miguel Angel Asturias

The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts, Louis de Bernières

Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord, Louis de Bernières

The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman, Louis de Bernières

Neruda and Vallejo: Selected Poems, ed. Robert Bly

Three Trapped Tigers, Guillermo Cabrera Infante

The Kingdom of This World, Alejo Carpentier

*The Lost Steps, Alejo Carpentier

Reasons of State, Alejo Carpentier

*So Far From God, Ana Castillo

Short Stories by Latin American Women: The Magic and the Real, ed. Celia Correas de Zapata

Cronopios y Famas, Julio Cortázar

*Hopscotch, Julio Cortázar

The Death of Artemio Cruz, Carlos Fuentes

*Autumn of the Patriarch, Gabriel García Márquez

*Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

*The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass

The Rain God: A Desert Tale, Arturo Islas

The Complete Stories and Parables, Franz Kafka

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

Sula, Toni Morrison

The Heights of Macchu Picchu, Pablo Neruda

The Elemental Odes, Pablo Neruda

The Milagro Beanfield War, John Nichols

*The Labyrinth of Solitude, Octavio Paz

Kiss of the Spider Woman, Manuel Puig

Barren Lives, Graciliano Ramos

Borges: A Reader, ed. Monegal and Reid

*The Time of the Doves, Mercé Rodoreda

My Christina and Other Stories, Mercé Rodoreda

The Burning Plain and other stories, Juan Rulfo

Open Door Stories, Luisa Valenzuela

Other Weapons, Luisa Valenzuela

Strange Things Happen Here, Luisa Valenzuela

*The Green House, Mario Vargas Llosa


*Asterisked books are the first priority. 



3. The Song Project: Musica/Canciones Clásicas


¡Azúcar y musica!  Given the proclivity of these writers to mention music repeatedly in their lives, each student will be in charge of a well-known, generally Latin-American song.  I have compiled a database so that each student will be able to hear 15-25 versions—at least—of the song chosen.  We’ll discuss why this is important, what the student’s job regarding this song will be, and why another art form is important to understanding writing.  These songs will have been written between about the turn of the century and the 1950s, the time during which the writers we’ll be reading would have grown up. 


The point of listening to this music is that it helps us as writers in our grand experiment with rhythms, in our grasping of how words make something of themselves inside us, how they enter and stay but—at their best—keep moving, giving us that small, potential reactivity of invisible muscles flexing, these words, in evidence of the real ability thought has to position us as human beings alive in the universe.


The list of songs, generally in the tango, bolero (love ballad), flamenco, and folk traditions, will likely include but not be limited to:


A Media Luz (1924), tango

Acércate Mas (1940), bolero

Bésame Mucho (1941), bolero

Adelita, trad. Mex. Rev. folksong (corrido)

Adiós Mariquita Linda, bolero

Amapola (1924), bolero

Amor (1941), bolero

Amor de mis Amores, bolero

Andalucía, Spanish flamenco trad.

Aquellos Ojos Verdes (1929), bolero

Caminito (1926), tango

Candilejas (1952), bolero

Capullito de Alhelí (1930), bolero

Cielito Lindo, trad. folksong

Cómo Fue, bolero

Corazón, Corazón, bolero

Cucurrucucu Paloma, trad. folksong

El Choclo (1933), tango

El Manisero (1928), folksong

El Reloj (1945), bolero

Frenesí (1939), bolero

Granada (1932), Spanish flamenco trad.

La Cucaracha, trad. folksong

La Cumparsita, tango

La Paloma, bolero

La Violetera (1923?), bolero

Las Golondrinas, trad. folksong

Las Mañanitas, trad. folksong

Malagueña, Spanish flamenco bolero

Maria Elena, bolero

Noche de Ronda (1935), bolero

Ojos Verdes, Spanish flamenco bolero

Paloma Blanca, bolero

Perfidia (1939), bolero

Piel Canela (1953), bolero

Quien Será, bolero

Quiéreme Mucho (1931), bolero

Quizás, Quizás, Quizás, bolero

Ramona, bolero

Sandunga, bolero

Se Te Olvida (La Mentira), bolero

Siboney, trad. folksong

Sin Ti, bolero

Solamente Una Vez (1941), bolero

Somos Novios (1968), bolero

Te Quiero, Dijiste (1944), bolero

Volver, Volver, bolero


Alberto Álvaro Ríos


Department of English, Box 870302, Arizona State University, Tempe AZ 85287-0302 · 480-965-3800—office · 480-965-3168—department

©2015, Alberto Ríos.  Not for re-use without permission/attribution.

©2015, Alberto Ríos.  Not for re-use without permission/attribution.