Featuring a battle for farmer's rights with a very unlikely hero on the front lines, John Nichols's "The Milagro Beanfield War" is a comic look at what happens when people stand up for themselves when the odds are stacked against them.
The agent scrutinized the town, getting it down right in his mind, giving himself time for everything to register, the houses of people he didn’t know and the houses of those in whom he was interested, the network of irrigation ditches and small dusty roads, the
minuscule orchards and small herds of sheep and horses.
conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
We know that some people here in Milagro support Joe Mondragon despite the possible grave consequences, and simply to arrest and jail Mr. Mondragon for his
flagrant illegal actions would probably cause more trouble than it would cure.
so extremely old as seeming to belong to an earlier period
In Milagro, only the Dancing Trout, the Forest Service headquarters, and the Enchanted Land Motel had private telephones: all other town residents were on an
archaic system of party lines installed so as to resemble a Tower of Babel built with electronic spaghetti.
inadvertently let the cat out of the bag when, somewhat flustered, he called Sammy Cantu to say he’d just seen a car with a chota-looking person in it go by, and was the meeting going to take place earlier than had been prearranged or what?
something intended to misrepresent the true nature of an activity
And, no matter how healthy a perfectly normal man, how bright and shapely a woman, he sensed they were twisted, one-eyed, half-crazed, crippled beings, awash in
subterfuge, aflutter with ominous ideas and devious thoughts—like himself—with furtive hungers and reckless desires and arcane yearnings that were almost supernatural, a murderer’s row of outwardly pleasant and monotonous dumdums.
In his lifetime the sheriff had never really forged any starting points; his sluggish brain was like a transistor radio whose batteries kept running low on juice during the most crucial broadcasts; his life had been belabored by
melancholy endings that occurred before page one.
Laughing, Joe seated himself on a dead cottonwood trunk near his beanfield, lit a cigarette, and watched the rattletraps heading down the highway toward
menial fifty-cent-an-hour, maybe a dollar-an-hour, at most a dollar-sixty, a dollar-eighty-an-hour jobs in Dona Luz and Chamisaville.
Expressionless, directionless, more than awed, he moved about in the high country valleys, occasionally sucking on little snowballs, stopping often to listen to the
inaudible hum, the fantastic and unhearable crinkle of that pristine frozen landscape.
For several days he plodded that way, aimlessly searching for nothing, in no hurry, a minuscule curious
specter inching around in that peaceful winter country, absorbing something, taking it in—indelibly—for all time.
And when Joe, or Amarante Cordova, or any other men in town sneaked into the National Forest to set a fire so all the men in town would have hard work at good pay for a while, they always stood around afterward with their hands in their pockets gazing innocently up at the sky, lips pursed, carelessly whistling “Dixie” as they declared the fire must have been set by that
unconscionable rapscallion, El Brazo Onofre.
Bernabe released another
gargantuan though inaudible Ai, Chihuahua!, and, fearing for his career, his voice almost a moan, he said, “They sure wouldn’t come into town and go around asking people to write on pieces of paper and then compare those pieces of paper with your note, sir. If you wanted somebody to want to kill you, that would be a good way to get them to be that way.”
They were the first creatures Herbie saw when he opened his door each morning, sunning themselves on his stoop or
lethargically arranged in the dust beside his house with green webbed feet poking out of their mouths and their eyes popping out of misshapen heads as they tried to swallow frogs.
high-flown style; excessive use of verbal ornamentation
He did everything possible to probe and expose the hypocritical
rhetoric surrounding the Indian Creek Dam—the state engineer’s pronouncement, for example, that it was “the only way to save a dying culture.”
To boot, Onofre’s TV antenna was so tall, so elaborate, so pronged, and so
replete with squiggling copper and aluminum tubing and boosters, that it looked like a DEW-line radar interceptor in Greenland.
force into some kind of situation, condition, or course of action
Kyril Montana had also helped Bud out of one ticklish situation involving federally controlled interstate land sales in which Bud had become
embroiled during his earlier days when he was based in the capital.
a collection of small fragments considered as a whole
Okay, so I live behind a six-foot-high wall in an adobe mansion surrounded by spruce trees, and I got more land than twenty of those poor bastards put together, but I been dealing with them for years, I been selling and buying their land, and right now I’m tied heavily into Ladd Devine’s Miracle Valley project, which I stand to come out of sitting very pretty, unless the whole ball of wax gets blown to
smithereens by a bunch of trigger-happy Chicanos or cops or whatever.
"Who isn’t so poor he doesn’t need that loot? If nothing else, just the question of should we work on those houses or shouldn’t we will set us further against each other; it will create resentments in those who finally work and in those who refuse...So it’s a very clever offer,” she concluded, her voice suddenly tired, reduced to a
look angry or sullen, wrinkle one's forehead, as if to signal disapproval
Before all this could happen, however, Joe showed up at Pacheco’s to drop a salt block into the field, and when he discovered his cow had flown the coop he started screaming at Seferino, who just
glowered lopsidedly at him during the five-minute tirade.
Buddy Gabaldon was subsequently relieved of his Milagro post and transferred to the regional director’s office in the capital where he became a mere bureaucratic
cipher, plowing through mountains of paper work at half his former salary.