Mala Noche: And Other “Illegal” Adventures

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An underground literary legend associated with Ken Kesey, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, Curtis has been called Portland, Oregon’s, unofficial street poet.

“Mala Noche” first appeared in 1977 as a chapbook and was later made into an award-winning film by Gus Van Sant. It is a vividly homoerotic account of Curtis’s passionate and mostly unrequited love for several Mexican street youths who come to Oregon seeking jobs and money.

Mala Noche, also one of Van Sant’s first films, captures well 1970s Portland, before Skid Row residents were evicted and the area was turned into “The Pearl” and homeless shelters and cheap hotels became stores selling expensive junk.

The powerful imagery is reminiscent of Jean Genet and of other Beat Generation writers. There is great sadness in the lives of these lost young men but also great beauty and dignity, which Curtis effectively captures.

Illustrated with the author’s photos and drawings and accompanied by several essays and poems, this book deserves a place in both Hispanic and gay literature collections

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