by Jaime Cortez
Grove Press, Black Cat. 208 pages, $16.
JAIME CORTEZ is a beloved Bay Area artist known for the whimsy and satirical edge in his drawings, graphic novels, sculpture, poetry, and performance. A gentle, uncompromising fierceness emanates from his work as he explores Chicano queerness. The artist also works in philanthropy as a program officer for a foundation. He grew up in California’s Central Valley, and his new collection of short stories, Gordo, is set in this region’s agricultural worker camps in the 1970s. These are not fictionalized narratives of hardscrabble destitution but ebullient tales about the chubby, effeminate Gordo and his friends. The joyous humanity of Cortez’ characters challenges the familiar tropes of migrant workers, as the children play and scuffle together and join their parents in the garlic fields.