Following up on connections made at last month’s Vancouver Art Book Fair, Juan Cisneros Neumann’s Grapes of Steinbeck was exchanged (in person!) for a few RML and LFP titles (Carlos Colín, Tierra y Libertad / Little México, Gabriela Galíndez, Notas sobre un recorrido: el Centro de Procesamiento de El Paso / Notes on a Tour: the El Paso Processing Center, and Daisy Quezeda Ureña, bosque brotante).
Grapes of Steinbeck is the latest in a series of small edition newspapers that Juan Cisneros Neumann has created annually under the imprint, Tortilla Press. This particular issue, which is framed by the nationalistic impact of John Steinbeck’s novel, responds very specifically to the topic of constructing a migration narrative.
In a letter to the readers found at the end of the publication, Cisneros Neumann describes how the literary Boom latinoamericano of the mid-twentieth century was inspired to a degree by Steinbeck’s approach to situated narratives. With this newspaper, which is covered by a scan of pages 2 and 3 of Steinbeck’s novel, Cisneros Neumann returns the favour, or updates the tradition. His paper constructs a rambling graphic narrative based on found fragments of imagery from our online world. Looking it over, our eyes and interrupted memory are invited to make something of recognizable scenarios and sequences. If this is the social or magical realism of our time then this is a time that is centred on the migration that brings people of the “majority world”, from South and Central American in this case, up into the north and into consciousness through representation. Both the generosity of companions and neighbours (Las Patronas) and the coldness and obscurity of guarding nations and cultures are rendered as central to the mythical journey.