Recommended by Stacey, City Lights Publishers
A fantastical gonzo Aztlán mythology, where modern Aztecs and immigrant ghosts uncover blood sacrifice in Los Angeles
In the alternate universe of Atomik Aztex, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders long ago. Aztek warriors with totemic powers are busy colonizing Europe, and human sacrifice is basic to economic growth.
Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, is plagued by nightmares of a parallel reality where American consumerism reigns supreme. Ghosts of banished Aztek warriors emerge to haunt contemporary Los Angeles, and Zenzontli's visions of Hell become real as he’s trapped in a job in an East L.A. meatpacking plant.
"With Atomic Aztex, Foster slices through history. His Aztex are not so very different from the Spanish colonialists or the corporate greed-mongers or the Farmer John pig butchers. "Everybody knows," he acknowledges from the outset, "that atavism and savagery make the world go round." For Foster, as a writer, the best strategy for fighting back is to rip up the language . . . He is not the first writer to use odd spellings to arrest our normal reading patterns. And he is not the first artist to explore the fantasy life of someone working on a factory line. But Foster puts his finger here on a particular nexus of World War II-era racism, factory life and the landscape of Los Angeles and then claims it for his very own." – Los Angeles Times
Sesshu Foster has taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 20 years. He's also taught writing at the University of Iowa and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry and, recently, XCP: Streetnotes. One of his last readings at St. Mark's Poetry Project NYC is Mp3 archived at www.salon.com. He is currently collaborating with artist Arturo Romo and other writers on the website, www.ELAguide.org. His most recent books are the novel Atomik Aztex and American Loneliness: Selected Poems (Beyond Baroque, 2006).