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Gods Go Begging

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  325 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
“Luminous... a beautiful book.” – Carolyn See

For Vietnam veteran Jesse Pasadoble, now a defense attorney living in San Francisco, the battle still rages: in his memories, in the gang wars erupting on Potrero Hill, and in the recent slaying of two women: one black, one Vietnamese. While seeking justice for the young man accused of this brutal double murder, Jesse must wal
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 1st 2000 by Plume (first published September 1st 1999)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Favorite Magical Realism Novels
224th out of 894 books — 4,080 voters
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Theme: Power and War2
47th out of 50 books — 3 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 991)
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Kaye McSpadden
Jan 07, 2010 Kaye McSpadden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It is truly an extraordinary work. Vea writes in beautiful, evocative prose, in a kind of almost poetic, sometimes hallucinatory style that stretches the imagination. The story that he tells will astonish and move you, will make you laugh and make you cry. The story weaves together the experiences of several characters whose lives came together in two different times and places -- one, in a violent battle during the Vietnam War and the other, thirty years later, in the violent ...more
Oct 02, 2014 Lemar rated it it was amazing
The best book that deals with the effects of war that I have ever read. Vea is a true master of words and this searing account is a must read. There is humor and intrigue and pathos in this book that has an element of what I unabashedly call magic.
May 17, 2016 Carey rated it really liked it
About 75% of the way through this book there was a MAJOR time/scene jump that had me convinced my kindle version was somehow flawed. So I did a little research on the book (yet another kindle selection that I have no recollection of reading about beforehand), trying to decide if I needed to track down a hard copy to compare--which would have been fruitless anyway. I live on a tiny island.
Judging by the other reviews I feel a little guilty that I didn't enjoy this book more. I liked it, probably
Oct 07, 2015 Kate rated it it was ok
I will 95% favor a book over a film version, but I feel like this could have been better suited to a movie, or mini-series, or something. I'm conflicted in my feelings toward this novel. The writing was extremely eloquent and detailed and created ridiculous imagery, but I found myself getting lost in it (and not in a good way). At times it forced me to slow down and deliberately read each word, sometimes I had to re-read a sentence or passage, and at other times I felt like it was forced. The be ...more
Mark T.
May 23, 2014 Mark T. rated it really liked it
This book tells the stories of many lives that are somehow connected to a urban hill which is covered in violence and anger, and another where many lives were lost during the Vietnam War.

It is a story that has many themes, such as violence being linked to ignorance, love being difficult to maintain once one has witnessed many harsh realities of life, and connections between people having profound effects on others even when the two parties don't meet for years, or a few steps farther, have long
Tosh Dawson
Jan 24, 2009 Tosh Dawson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Vea must be a hermit or have a crappy publicist.
Jul 23, 2015 Alonzo rated it it was amazing
"Everything turns on jazz."

The layers of meaning alone in this novel are staggering. Just to read it as it is is to be washed in, and reborn from, a river that brings love and life. To read it and contemplate the meanings, the symbols, the depth of its power, is enlightening.

In one place the boys on the hill, in Vietnam near the Laotian border, do some supposing: "'Supongamos, mis amigos!'" (111). The fact is, Alfredo Véa does some serious supposing and I am glad he does. This novel is one of th
Craig Werner
The best book about Vietnam and its impact on American society. The terrifying thing is that it feels even more immediate now than it did when it was published in 1998. Then, Vea was unsparing in his vision of how the nation's refusal to honestly confront Vietnam was playing out in the lives of veterans and on the streets of our cities (in this case primarily the Bay Area, where Vea works as a defense lawyer specializing in major crimes--the book's worth it simply for protagonist Jesse Passadobl ...more
Leroy Rodriguez
Apr 28, 2013 Leroy Rodriguez rated it really liked it
At the beginning I was swept up in the magic of this writing. So romantic and hopeful in the face of the horror of senseless death. Not since Dagoberto Gilb had I been so excited to find a voice like this in a Chicano writer. But after a while it seemed like Mr Vea was sidetracked by his own chops. And rest assured he's has chops to spare...still maybe I'm at fault for thinking it was a murder mystery instead of a meditation on how Vietnam changed the face of a whole generation of young men.
Kiera Healy
Sep 23, 2013 Kiera Healy rated it really liked it
I read this on my recent, unplanned trip to Santander. It's an excellent novel that repeatedly changes direction but, ultimately, focuses on the Vietnam War, and how it stays with the people involved (the novel is set primarily in the 1990s). Oh, and there's also a gangland murder mystery. And there's a fair bit of magic realism, too.

Alfredo Vea's Chicano hero is a Vietnam veteran who now works as a defence lawyer in San Francisco, and carries his war scars everywhere he goes. He is assigned to
Pia Mogollon
Jan 18, 2015 Pia Mogollon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant beautiful story. I would emerge from the book as if I were returning from an epic journey. Vea is a masterful, engaging storyteller. With touches of magic realism, nail biting suspense and characters that you fall in love with. I highly recommend all of his books.
Nov 19, 2014 Yvonneo rated it liked it
This book was a definite four-star until the denouement - but magic reality has never really worked for me, so perhaps that's just my problem. I really liked it all round though.
Feb 20, 2008 Anne rated it really liked it
This has the best set of lawyer stories possible, and based on a chance meeting in traffic school, I have it on good authority that all of them are true. It also has two of the finest female characters I have encountered. It takes place alternately in 90s San Francisco and the war-torn Vietnam of the 1970s. It's a bit well-made, esp. the ending, but it still broke my heart. I read the end on a cross-country flight, teared up and moved the guy from Bagkok sitting next to me so much that he put hi ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Cassie rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've ever read. That sounds like such a vague and unverifiable statement. I'll try again:

This is a book that works from the premise that people are intrinsically good and rips at the outer limits of that philosophy.

No, that doesn't work either.

How about this:

The entire process of reading this book was, for me, like slowly waking up.

I'll add more, here or elsewhere ...

I have this experience every few years of reading a book that seems to delineate an archetype so perfectly
Steve Dunphy
Apr 01, 2011 Steve Dunphy rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Beautifully written, compelling story line. This was recommended by Ms. Mia Feldbaum; thanks Mia! I have convinced my book club to read this too. I hope they like it.

There's a great passage in here that describes an army chaplain who, while part of a group of soldiers defending a position on a meaningless hill, finally breaks. He just starts walking. Into the enemy lines. Into the jungle. Into the Mekong River where he floats downstream on a large branch, finally to the Mekong Delt
Michelle Balmeo
Jan 02, 2008 Michelle Balmeo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: all-time-faves
While this could easily be called a "boy book" (it does, after all, feature a soldier on the cover), it was the first book in a long time to make me cry. The opening scene -- the crime scene of the murder of what, to the community, can only be a lesbian couple that loved to cook pasta sauce -- sets the stage for a bizarre plot that relies on magical realism to make it work. Don't be scared off by the seemingly sci-fi technique, though. This book is all about love, lust, war, crime, and the many ...more
Apr 11, 2015 Philip rated it did not like it
Emily Haug
Jan 04, 2015 Emily Haug rated it it was amazing
Stunning book!
Sherry (sethurner)
Oct 31, 2008 Sherry (sethurner) rated it it was amazing
"For a time, they both held on to their lives, gasping softly, whispering feverishly, and bleeding profusely, their two minds far, far away from the cruel harrowing bullets that had left them mere seconds away from death."

I loved this book, was completely drawn into the interconnected lives of the protagonists. I imagine some people will be put off by the book's violence and nonlinear construction, but it grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Thumbs up.
Dec 18, 2009 Nadine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Oh, wow. This is the best book I have read in a long, long time. The prose is so scrumptious it made me want to curl up with it and savor every single word. I need to read it again, soon. The story is heartbreaking and beautiful and just amazing. I don't understand how Vea isn't more well known...this guy is one of the best writers out there, period. He needs a new publicist, because he should be winning every award there is.
Jan 13, 2010 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family-book-club
This was a great book. It took a little work but was well worth it. Very interesting characters. This is one that would be worth a second read. We used it for our book club and it provided plenty to discuss.
Jul 19, 2012 Anna rated it really liked it
Magical realism made it a bit hard to follow at times (Marquez does it better). But the prose was gorgeous, and the characters interesting. It was quite sad, but still a good read.
Alisha Hanson-Glatzel
Vea is an intelligent writer. I can't think of the last book that I read where I wanted my computer next to me as I read. Google'ing this and'ing that.

Jul 25, 2015 Ltbittner rated it it was ok
Didn't like the was aspects. Too graphic.
Sep 09, 2010 Amber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2010
I love Vea's work. It's as close to poetry as I get. This one was a harder read for me (subject matter) than his others, but I still loved it.
Bonnie Wright
Sep 18, 2009 Bonnie Wright rated it really liked it
This, to me, was a real learning experience about the effects of the Vietnam War. Well written and an intriguing story.
 don presnell
Oct 09, 2015 don presnell rated it really liked it

great read
events, people,time
go forward coherently
as there seems to be no one story line

Apr 02, 2013 Pamk rated it liked it
The war scenes were very powerful but I found the two story lines confusing and disjointed.
Great book to read with a De Anza College second quarter composition class (EWRT1B).
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Alfredo Véa was born in Arizona and worked as a migrant farm worker as a child and a young man. He served in Vietnam and after his discharge worked a series of jobs, ranging from truck driver to carnival mechanic, as he put himself through law school. Now a practicing criminal defense attorney, Vea is also the author of two previous novels, La Maravilla and The Silver Cloud Cafe. He lives in San F ...more
More about Alfredo Véa...

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“I must have been chosen because I know it all from beginning to end. I am certainly not the story itself. I am only the grass that tattles on the wind.” 5 likes
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