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A Summer Life
Gary Soto

Available only as an ebook.

1990 • 127 pp. 5 x 7 1/2"
Creative Writing

$4.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-201-4

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Poet Soto (The Tale of Sunlight) here offers 39 brief essays about his years from age 5 to 17 in and around Fresno, California. In supple, evocative language he remembers... [continued in Reviews below]”—Publishers Weekly

Richly poetic, Gary Soto’s “sudden fiction” entertains with tales of growing Chicano in California’s Central Valley

Gary Soto writes that when he was five “what I knew best was at ground level.” In this lively collection of short essays, Soto takes his reader to a ground level perspective, recreating in vivid detail the sights, sounds, smells, and textures he knew growing up in his Fresno, California neighborhood. The “things” of his boyhood tie it all together: his Buddha “splotched with gold,” the taps of his shoes and the “engines of sparks that lived beneath my soles,” his worn tennies smelling of “summer grass,
asphalt, the moist sock breathing the defeat of baseball.” The child’s world is made up of small things–small very important things.

A respected poet and an innovator of the short essay form, Soto offers nearly snapshot-like glances of moments unique in form yet universal in content. Growing up Chicano and male, Soto gives us a rag-tag race through his neighborhood, speaking equally as well to the childhood experiences of us all.

Anyone who remembers the fifties or who knows anything about growing up in the fifties will relish Soto’s rich poetic descriptions. Teachers and students of writing will relish Soto’s rich poetic descriptions. Teachers and students of writing will also find inspiration in these tightly knit and highly imaginative stories. Soto offers much more than humorous and poignant recollections; he wraps each memory in a poetry that lingers pleasantly in the reader’s mind.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Poet Soto (The Tale of Sunlight) here offers 39 brief essays about his years from age 5 to 17 in and around Fresno, California. In supple, evocative language he remembers quietly euphoric summer days spent in the shade of fruit trees, when the taps he fastened to his shoes–“kicking up the engine of sparks that lived beneath my soles”–were enough to keep him amused, and when an imaginary brake prevented the boy from speeding out of control. A favorite theme is childish fantasy, whether the rumor of a giant who “lived nearby”' or a breeze that “moved a hat-sized tumbleweed,” and, without saying a word on the subject, Soto suggests the rich implications of imagination for the future writer. It is mostly his fondness for place that buoys memory up, with the sights, tastes and feelings of home and earth revealed in carefully chosen yet seemingly casual details: “I ate like a squirrel with a burst of jaw motion”; “Grandmother sipped coffee and tore jelly-red sweetness from a footprint-sized Danish.” Soto the realist does not neglect his boyhood mischief, and his sly sense of humor is exercised throughout.”—Publishers Weekly

“Deceptively simplistic and quietly powerful sketches from a gifted poet and storyteller.”—Booklist

“Available so far only in electronic format, Soto’s newest slice-of-life novel centers on 13-year-old Gabe Mendoza’s conflicted feelings when his father, an alcoholic who abandoned him and his mother four years ago, shows up again as a shambling, homeless wreck... As usual for Soto, the setting is as vividly drawn as any of the characters, and there’s an everyday quality to the incidents shaping the plotline that invites recognition and identification from readers.”Booklist

From the Book:

“Grandmother was also fond of green, though the silver shine of coins made her eyebrows jump up and down. She showed me a nickel slug from the country fair stamped: MILK IS GOOD. She could neither read nor write in Spanish or English, and thought the coin was worth more than a brown child realized. I wanted to say that it was nothing. It could only sparkle in the sun or maybe make a nice necklace, but it was no rare coin. But I drank my purple Kool-Aid, spines of air trapped in the ice cubes, and made my eyebrows jump up and down like hers.” .” —From the Book

GARY SOTO’S books have sold more than three million copies and are well-known in classrooms throughout the country. His poem “Oranges” is the most anthologized poem in contemporary literature. He has received the Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the PEN West Award for Petty Crimes, and the Human and Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association. The Gary Soto Literary Museum is located at Fresno City College. For more information, visit

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:01:37 -0500