"When I moved to northern New Mexico thirty-three years ago," writes John Nichols, "I immediately fell in with my neighbours and commenced laughing." As folklorist Nasario Garcia explains in his introduction to this collection, falling in with the voices of laughter and comic relief is a timeless, vital aspect of Hispanic culture. !Chistes! brings together for the first time in English and regional Spanish a medley of orally gathered humorous anecdotes from northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The chistes range in form from practical jokes, pranks, slips-of-the-tongue, hyperbole, solecisms, slapstick, and double entendres. True for most of the villages and towns represented in this collection, Hispanic humour is a function of folks who understand how to deal with difficult times with verve and at time self-deprecation, places with a strong communal identification, where everyone knows everybody's business and tells it with good-natured fun; where nothing is off limits, not even the church; where local politics takes it on the chin and farm animals provide the punch. The original Spanish versions of these tales are particularly flavourful for their colourful vernacular found uniquely in the region covered.
Nasario Garcia has edited and translated numerous collections of folklore, including Mas Antes: Hispanic Folklore of the Rio Puerco Valley (Museum of New Mexico Press) and Platicas: Conversations with Hispano Writers of New Mexico (Texas Tech). A former professor of languages at New Mexico Highlands University, he lives in Santa Fe. John Nichols is the author of The Milagro Beanfield War, among many works of fiction.