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Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces: A Novel
by Maceo Montoya
University of Nevada Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-1-64779-001-1 | Cloth: 978-1-64779-000-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3613.O54945
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.6

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
From critically acclaimed author Maceo Montoya comes an inventive and adventurous satirical novel about a Mexican-American artist’s efforts to fulfill his vision: to paint masterful works of art. His plans include a move to Paris to join the ranks of his artistic hero, Gustave Courbet—except it’s 1943, and he’s stuck in the backwoods of New Mexico. Penniless and prone to epileptic fits, even his mother thinks he’s crazy.

Ernie Lobato has just inherited his deceased uncle’s manuscript and drawings. At the urging of his colleague, an activist and history buff (Lorraine Rios), Ernie sends the materials to a professor of Chicanx literature (Dr. Samuel Pizarro). Throughout the novel, Dr. Pizarro shares his insights and comments on the uncle’s legacy in a series of annotations to his text and illustrations.

As Ernie’s uncle battles a world that is unkind to “starving artists,” he runs into other tormented twentieth-century artists, writers, and activists with ambitions to match his own: a young itinerant preacher (Reies López Tijerina); the “greatest insane artist” (Martín Ramirez); and Oscar Zeta Acosta who is hellbent on self-destruction. Will the fortuitous encounters with these prophetic figures result in his own genius being recognized? Or will his
uncompromising nature consign him to what he fears most?

Told through a combination of words and images in the tradition of classic works such as Don Quixote and Alice in Wonderland, Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces features fifty-one vivid black-and-white pen drawings. This complex and engaging story also doubles as literary criticism, commenting on how outsiders’ stories fit into the larger context of the Chicanx literary canon. A unique and multilayered story that embraces both contradiction and possibility, it also sheds new light on the current state of Chicanx literature while, at the same time, contributing to it.

Propulsive, humorous, and full of life, this candid novel will be loved not only by Beat fiction fans but by contemporary fiction lovers as well.

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