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The Permit that Never Expires: Migrant Tales from the Ozark Hills and the Mexican Highlands
by Philip Garrison
University of Arizona Press, 2010
eISBN: 978-0-8165-0222-6 | Paper: 978-0-8165-2831-8
Library of Congress Classification F855.2.M5G374 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.8968720795

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY | TOC
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Philip Garrison keeps his eyes and ears open. And he also keeps an open mind. It helps that he’s bilingual, because a lot of his neighbors these days speak Spanish and he likes to know what’s on their minds. Like his epileptic friend Pera, who asks him to write a note in English to explain to her supervisor that she probably shouldn’t be cooking on a grill in case she has a seizure and falls into the flames. When Garrison asks her if she has a work permit, she replies,“Bueno. El que nunca vence.” The kind that never expires. That’s the sort of response he doesn’t forget.

There is a river, Garrison writes, that runs from Oaxaca to British Columbia. El flujo migratorio, he calls it. The migratory flow. But it isn’t a conventional sort of river. “It is made of neither rock nor water nor wind but only of motion, of momentum. And yet . . . it is the most compelling feature in the entire U.S. West,” he claims. Garrison has his feet planted firmly in the middle of this river of humanity, wondering why America is trying to build a wall along an actual river, the Rio Grande, to keep us separated from the mexicanos. All borders, he writes, exist mostly in the imagination—a point he proves decisively in this delightful book.

Garrison is an award-winning writer and this book shows why. Warm, witty, self-deprecating, and charming (the list could go on), this collection illuminates the lives of these migrants, whether at the local food bank in Ellensburg, Washington, in the streets of Michoacán, or everywhere in between.

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