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Chasing Dichos Through Chimayo
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The poetic proverbs known to nuevomexicanos as dichos are particular to their places of origin. In these reflections on the dichos of the Chimayo Valley in northern New Mexico native son Don J. Usner has written a memoir that is also a valuable source of information on the rich language and culture of the region. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs that Usner, who is also known for his photographic work, took of the people and places that he writes about, this book is a one-of-a-kind introduction to the real New Mexico.

Usner has known Chimayo since he was a boy visiting his grandmother and the other village elders, who taught him genealogies going back to family origins in Spain. The Spanish he learned there was embedded in dichos and cuentos. This book is the result of Usner's research into these memorable sayings, and it preserves a language and a culture on the verge on dissolution. It is a gateway into a uniquely New Mexican way of life.
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About the Author

Don J. Usner's most recent book, Valles Caldera: A Vision for New Mexico's National Preserve, coauthored with William deBuys, also includes his remarkable photographs. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Reviews

"What is missing in collections of proverbs from medieval times to the present is context. How and when do people actually use them in conversation? And who are the dichosos, those talented performers of dichos who share and teach them? With the help of his mother, Estella Chavez Usner, Don Usner commemorates them with camera and pen. These deeply drawn family and community memoirs show that genealogy in New Mexico is more a performance than a dusty archive; it is a living exercise in verbal art. Usner's book includes sayings that are centuries old as well as those that are recently composed and locally adapted. Accessible and poetic, this repository of dichos and refranes as used in New Mexico brims with authenticity."--Enrique R. Lamadrid, author of Hermanos Comanchitos: Indo-Hispano Rituals of Captivity and Devotion" "This book is a marvelous recovery project. In flowing and sometimes wistful prose, Usner records the customs, history, and oral expressions of the people of Chimayo. The author's journey back to his village roots, his patient attention to detail, and his gift for storytelling provide compelling reading. In this collection of dichos framed by autobiographical vignettes, we hear the voices of Usner's family and ancestors. We feel their presence. They continue to reside in the spaces and stories of the community. Chasing Dichos through Chimayo is a testament to the wisdom of generations. But it is equally a reminder of a vibrant and enduring linguistic heritage."--John M. Nieto-Phillips, author of The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s-1930s" "[In] "Chasing Dichos Through Chimayo," Usner sought to capture the intensely regional Northern New Mexico Spanish as expressed through the sayings and maxims that still dominate the speech of the Chimayosos, an affectionate name for the town's residents. With an observant ear for everyday speech, Usner re-creates the conversations of the town's "viejitos," or elders, peppered with the "dichos" that proliferate in the residents' singular dialect of Spanish."--"Pasatiempo"" "Northern New Mexico has its own, unique charm that Don J. Usner captures in his "Chasing Dichos through Chimayo.""--"Albuquerque Journal"" "Dichos" Spanish idioms fill the pages of this book as they fill our hearts because, no matter the location or the linguistics, the language of humanity is universal. "Southwest Books of the Year"" [In] "Chasing Dichos Through Chimayo," Usner sought to capture the intensely regional Northern New Mexico Spanish as expressed through the sayings and maxims that still dominate the speech of the Chimayosos, an affectionate name for the town s residents. With an observant ear for everyday speech, Usner re-creates the conversations of the town s "viejitos," or elders, peppered with the "dichos" that proliferate in the residents singular dialect of Spanish. "Pasatiempo"" Northern New Mexico has its own, unique charm that Don J. Usner captures in his "Chasing Dichos through Chimayo." "Albuquerque Journal"" What is missing in collections of proverbs from medieval times to the present is context. How and when do people actually use them in conversation? And who are the dichosos, those talented performers of dichos who share and teach them? With the help of his mother, Estella Chavez Usner, Don Usner commemorates them with camera and pen. These deeply drawn family and community memoirs show that genealogy in New Mexico is more a performance than a dusty archive; it is a living exercise in verbal art. Usner s book includes sayings that are centuries old as well as those that are recently composed and locally adapted. Accessible and poetic, this repository of dichos and refranes as used in New Mexico brims with authenticity. Enrique R. Lamadrid, author of Hermanos Comanchitos: Indo-Hispano Rituals of Captivity and Devotion" This book is a marvelous recovery project. In flowing and sometimes wistful prose, Usner records the customs, history, and oral expressions of the people of Chimayo. The author s journey back to his village roots, his patient attention to detail, and his gift for storytelling provide compelling reading. In this collection of dichos framed by autobiographical vignettes, we hear the voices of Usner s family and ancestors. We feel their presence. They continue to reside in the spaces and stories of the community. Chasing Dichos through Chimayo is a testament to the wisdom of generations. But it is equally a reminder of a vibrant and enduring linguistic heritage. John M. Nieto-Phillips, author of The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s 1930s" "This book is a marvelous recovery project. In flowing and sometimes wistful prose, Usner records the customs, history, and oral expressions of the people of Chimayo. The author's journey back to his village roots, his patient attention to detail, and his gift for storytelling provide compelling reading. In this collection of dichos framed by autobiographical vignettes, we hear the voices of Usner's family and ancestors. We feel their presence. They continue to reside in the spaces and stories of the community. Chasing Dichos through Chimayo is a testament to the wisdom of generations. But it is equally a reminder of a vibrant and enduring linguistic heritage."--John M. Nieto-Phillips, author of The Language of Blood: The Making of Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico, 1880s-1930s" "What is missing in collections of proverbs from medieval times to the present is context. How and when do people actually use them in conversation? And who are the 'dichosos, ' those talented performers of dichos who share and teach them. With the help of his mother, Estella Chavez Usner, Don Usner commemorates them with camera and pen. These deeply drawn family and community memoirs show that genealogy in New Mexico is more a performance than a dusty archive; a living exercise in verbal art. Usner's book includes sayings that are centuries old as well as recently composed and locally adapted. Accessible and poetic, this repository of dichos and refranes as used in New Mexico brims with authenticity."--Enrique R. Lamadrid, author of Hermanos Comanchitos: Indo-Hispano Rituals of Captivity and Devotion"

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