Books From the Slush Pile: ‘River of Angels,’ by Alejandro Morales

The slush pile


The reject pile! Aspiring authors, avert thine eyes!


River of Angels

In case you just tuned in, this is one of the books I retrieved from the piles of review copies put out for the staff.

I’m not familiar with Alejandro Morales, a UC Irvine professor of Chicano and Latino studies, but the text seems interesting and definitely worth a look.

Here’s a sample chosen at random, Pages 84-85.

 

of household items, including some two hundred pieces of fine furniture that his parents had given the newlyweds. Allison’s dowry had been extremely generous. From that first day when they moved into their new home in Hancock Park, Alison consistently made it clear that she would have a voice in their family’s future.
Ernest and Allison Keller’s married life progressed wonderfully except for one issue that became a thorn and eventually a painful open wound in Ernest’s side.

Since Ernest’s arrival with Allison, his Uncle Philip continually insisted on involving himself in family affairs. He started to visit the house more and more, always managing to stay for dinner. He repeated how proud and excited he was that they were expecting a baby and how wonderful it would be if they had a male child. Repeatedly, he reminded them that they should have male babies, sons who would take over the business and continue the Keller lineage. Uncle Philip repeated his prayer for a male child and took pride in that the child would add to the white leadership in California. Then, to Uncle Philip’s great disappointment, Allison’s first child was a girl: Louise. And then a second child, Emily, was born. And worse, in a couple of years, a third female child: Gloria. Uncle Philip did not hide his dissatisfaction

“It’s a damn curse, Ernest! You must keep trying for a boy.”

Ernest listened to his uncle, who became more like a father. After Gloria was born, the doctor advised Allison not to have any more children. Her uterus had weakened to the point that she might not be able to hold the next pregnancy, thereby endangering the fetus and herself. The doctor recommended exercises to strengthen the uterus, and, on Ernest’s insistence, she did the exercises faithfully every day. Behind Ernest’s request was Uncle Philip urging his nephew to have a baby boy to carry on the Keller name. All the while, Ernest and Allison’s lovemaking became more frequent. She would do whatever she needed to have a boy for her husband. But the fourth pregnancy never came, and Uncle Philip’s manchild never materialized. Yet there was always a smile on Ernest’s face as he allowed his wife to do whatever she suggested might bring on a baby boy. Secretly, it bothered him that they could not conceive a boy, no matter what they tried. In Uncle Philip’s eyes it was Allison who had failed to produce a boy. It was Allison and her ideas about women being equal to men, her claims that, if given a chance, her daughters could run the family business just as well as Ernest and Uncle Philip.

Uncle Philip gradually pulled away from Allison. Of course he was polite, but it was clear that her thinking irritated him. He supported his nieces, yet he warned Ernest that he should not allow Allison to poison the girls’ minds with silly nonsense about women’s rights and equality; they would only be hurt and disappointed as a result of such nonsensical ideas.

Male children were important to continue the Aryan race. Uncle Philip believed that European Aryans had to continue their bloodlines in America and particularly in Southern California, where there was so much potential for pollution from mongrel races. Soon after Ernest returned from Philadelphia, Uncle Philip had introduced him to the Aryan Club of Southern California. The members, all of white northern European stock, wanted to make Los Angeles a new-world Aryan fatherland. Most of the members were wealthy professionals involved in government, banking, publishing, real estate, science and education. They had attended universities either in the East or in the old country. They believed in God and were convinced that they had a sacred duty to establish and maintain Southern California as an Aryan-led community. They invested time and money towards accomplishing this goal, sponsoring public educational meetings and featuring cultural programs relating to northern European countries. The most important business of the society was conducted at secret locations, usually on or near the University of Southern California campus. A prominent eugenicist and member of the Aryan Club of Southern California was also a professor at the University of Southern California and a close friend of Philip Keller.

At one of the meetings the club president lectured on Aryan superiority and explained how Charles Darwin’s “Theory of Natural Selection” and Herbert Spencer’s “On the Survival of the Fittest” were easily applicable and perceivable in the various racial communities of Los Angeles. The president’s presentation suggested to Ernest that he was an Aryan person destined by sacred right to lead in the construction of Los Angeles. Being constantly told by Uncle Philip and his colleagues that he and his kind were superior led him to hire Mexicans, Asians, blacks and Indians, and pay them as little as possible.

According to the experts-Darwinists, university professors, members of the Aryan Club of Southern California-Indians, particularly of the California tribes, were inherently inferior, prone to drunkenness and infested with diseases like tuberculosis and syphilis. Syphilis had devastated this race by lowering their mental capacities to the point of mak-

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Books and Authors, Latinos and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Books From the Slush Pile: ‘River of Angels,’ by Alejandro Morales

  1. Cal and Lulu says:

    ONE WONDERS IF KELLER IS RELATED TO MATTHEW KELLER WHOSE NAME IS ON EVERY DEED, IN MALIBU? “MATTHEW KELLER, MALIBU SEQUIT”

  2. Gretchen says:

    Oh my goodness, this book seems a treasure trove. Heady stuff. Yes, absolutely — her unconventional feminist ways undoubtedly made Allison’s uterus a rocky place where Uncle Philip’s seed could find no purchase (to paraphrase the Coen Brothers). And that was a crying shame, because she needed to make boy babies. White babies. White male babies to overcome the dreadful influence of drunken, syphilitic Indian seed.

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