The Misfits by Jimmy Santiago Baca
Arte Público Press, November 2022
After spending five years in LA working successfully as a screenwriter, the protagonist of this novel decides it’s time to return to his hometown, Santa Luz, New Mexico, to pen the novel he has always needed to write about the strained relationship with his father. He reconnects with old friends and meets new ones, and the parade of quirky characters—self-proclaimed artists, wealthy retirees, corrupt lawyers—distracts him from his project. There’s Helen, who hooks up with an unsavory character and winds up in jail—for murder. Sheryl can’t take her philandering husband anymore and drives her car off a mountaintop, killing herself and her children. And there’s Paul, who lives a double life as a happy family man, but who has a serious drug addiction. Against the backdrop of mystical mornings and beautiful mountains, the writer soon realizes things aren’t always what they seem in Santa Luz. The writer’s sympathies are with the working class, and his satirical gaze embraces the people who live in the shadows, those considered “misfits.” Jimmy Santiago Baca writes compellingly about artists and their responsibility to society.