El Segundo’s Dream Notes

Steven Alvarez

ISBN: 978-1-940853-28-4
160 pgs


forthcoming 16 September 2024


Tonalamatl is the fourth book in Steven Alvarez’s series of experimental borderland novels in verse, including The Codex Mojaodicus (Fence Books, 2017), Manhatitlán (The Operating System, 2021), and McTlán (FlowerSong Press, 2022). In this final installment of “dream notes,” three generations of the Chastitellez family spiral deep into the dream underworld of the borderlands into visions of destinies that prefigure disgorged, decolonial prophesies.

“Steven Alvarez’s Tonalamatl is a divinatory almanac in the garb of a book. Its deerskin and dream-fingered body slips into the ink of rounded words and paper assemblage. Thus clad, Tonalamatl dances in the trans-hemispheric caves of worldbearing Chicomoztoc, amid the underworld vibrations of Nezahualcoyotl, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Ezra Pound, Frank O’Hara, Hannah Weiner, Ernesto Cardenal, Oscar Zeta Acosta, Ruben and the Jets, and Dr. Loco’s aka Dr. Jose Cuellar’s Rockin’ Jalapeño Band. In the face of too many books today that are scared to name the names of forebears immanent or invoked, Tonalamatl is a poetic revaluation of the names by which the hemisphere floats on the waters of a very old dance syncopated by very present crises: Mexico, Aztlan, Harlem, machine, chingon, Ulysses, Spanglish, chthonic, Chicanx. Alvarez’s new work is tremendous—a cumbia sonidera and an underworld descent—all of which summons spirits and spiritual grooves that require the apotropaic words of the classic placas of XICANX POETICO-PRAXIS, that is, CON SAFOS C/S.”
–Edgar Garcia, author of Skins of Columbus: A Dream Ethnography

“Mythopoetic in its arc, set to norteño music and honky tonk, Alvarez’s pathmaking novelistic palimpsest, Tonalamatl, links to his earlier surreal narrative verse works, and acts as the final book of the series. Here characters communicate interrelationaly, dialoguing across time, borders, and space. An untamable book, conjuring decolonial futures.”
–Hoa Nguyen, author of A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure 



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