Authors: Lionel G. García

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

American novelist and short-story writer

Identity: Mexican American

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Leaving Home, 1985

A Shroud in the Family, 1987

Hardscrub, 1990

To a Widow with Children, 1994

Short Fiction:

I Can Hear the Cowbells Ring, 1994

The Day They Took My Uncle, and Other Stories, 2001

Drama:

An Acorn on the Moon, pr. 1995

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

The Elephant and the Ant, 2000

Biography

Born in 1935 in the remote brush country of Texas near the Mexican border to Gonzalo Guzman and Maria Saenz García, Lionel C. García was later to write fiction for nearly three decades before seeing significant publication of and attention to his works. A regional writer, García has lived most of his life in this desolate, dirt-ridden part of the United States.{$I[A]García, Lionel G.}{$I[geo]UNITED STATES;García, Lionel G.}{$I[geo]LATINO;García, Lionel G.}{$I[tim]1935;García, Lionel G.}

Interested in science and biology, García entered Texas A&M University. He earned a B.S. in 1956; he also took classes in and otherwise pursued creative writing as an undergraduate. García twice served two-year terms in the U.S. Army, the first of which was in 1957-1958. A year after leaving the military, he married Noemi Barrera. He returned to active duty in 1959.

Resolved not to pursue a military career, he returned to Texas A&M in the early 1960’s, where he eventually earned the D.V.M. degree, which would provide most of his life’s work outside the literary world. He became a practicing veterinarian in the late 1960’s, after spending three years as an assistant professor of anatomy, again at Texas A&M. Perhaps surprisingly, though, he makes little use of his biology and primary profession in his fiction.

While serving in the military and teaching college classes, García’s side interest–perhaps at heart it was always his main one–was writing short stories. He had published his first story in the undergraduate literary magazine during his senior year of college, continuing to write thereafter. It was not until 1983, however, that he would receive recognition for his work; he was awarded the PEN Southwest Discovery Prize for his first novel, Leaving Home, which at the time was unpublished.

Like the terrain in South Texas, García’s characters–while colorful–are often bleak and desolate in their attitudes and behavior. Both Leaving Home and A Shroud in the Family are about family life among first-and second-generation immigrants coming from Mexico to Texas. About this time, he also began to give public readings of his fiction, a mode of performance that well serves his storytelling abilities.

His next novel, Hardscrub, is set in the 1950’s and also tells of a family confronting the problems of everyday life in South Texas. It won several honors, all regional in nature, including the Texas Literary Award. In the mid-1990’s García changed his focus to other subgenres of fiction: He published the highly autobiographical collection of personal writings titled I Can Hear the Cowbells Ring, and he tried his luck with a play called An Acorn on the Moon, which was locally produced but never published. He also wrote a children’s book, The Elephant and the Ant. In the late 1990’s he collected his stories, most of which had been previously published, in The Day They Took My Uncle, and Other Stories. García’s works have generally been well received as popular writings of fiction, regional in scope but more than expansive in their appreciation of the experience of Mexican immigrants coming to make lives in the southwestern United States.

BibliographyAnhalt, Diana. “South Texas Buckshot Stories.” The Texas Observer, November 9, 2001. A detailed, favorable review of The Day They Took My Uncle, and Other Stories. Anhalt focuses on local-color characters appearing in the collection of short fiction.Golden, Dorothy. Review of To a Widow with Children, by Lionel G. García. Library Journal 119, no. 6 (April 1, 1994): 131. A brief, favorable review which praises the novel for its success in the absence of sex and violence as it studies the problems of the family.Mutter, John. Review of A Shroud in the Family, by Lionel G. García. Publishers Weekly 232, no. 4 (July 24, 1987): 181. A review of the novel. The critic calls the work a satire which ridicules the use of Hispanic stereotypes while endorsing stereotypes of white, mainstream Americans.Ray, Karen. Review of Hardscrub, by Lionel G. García. The New York Times Book Review 125, no. 1705 (February 25, 1990): 7, 24. A detailed review of the novel, in which the critic finds much humor and irony, with special attention given to characters.
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