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Ask a Mexican

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  479 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
"Inquiring Gringos Want to Know" is how the Los Angeles Times headlined a story about Gustavo Arellano's popular "¡Ask a Mexican!" column in the alternative magazine OC Weekly. This delightfully informal QA feature reveals what every Latino and Latina already knows: That non-Hispanics face a steep learning curve about Mexicans and other New World immigrants. The collection ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Scribner (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 821)
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Apr 13, 2012 Malbadeen rated it did not like it
sometimes I over think things, case in point: this book. I started reading it at Sarah's a few weeks ago and found it entertaining enough but this weekend I tried to listen to more of it on audio and I couldn't stop thinking about it enough to listen to it.

reason #1. should I be laughing at this? why not, I laugh at my own American-ness all the time. the fact that I'm worried about laughing at this might indicate that I feel some sort of affinity to protect Mexicans which might also indicate tha
LonewolfMX Luna
Jul 25, 2008 LonewolfMX Luna rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: To any foreward thinking Raza who is realist and not bound by idology and political correctness,
From Orange County's Gustavo Arellano columns he create a book which he answers the questions to those who are curious about Mexicans and the Mexican culture.

As a Mexican/Chicano I took a look at this book thinking it would be offensive, but to my surprise it was highly informative and humorous in which he would poke holes in the arguments of racists and Neoconservatives with facts. As well he doesn't let political correctness hold him back as he would poke fun of Mexican mannerisms. Yes I don't
Jan 24, 2009 Rosemary rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book. As a Chicana I couldn't help but laugh at myself. Arellano has a very unique approach in dealing with racist questions.

When others will get outraged he prefers to counteract those comments and questions with comedy and sprinkling in some historical info along the way. I really was facinated by the knowledge I gained about my own self. Kudos to Gustavo Arellano and I can't wait for the next book. Gracias
Aug 10, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very repetitive... And not nearly as fun, fierce or naughty as I had expected. Just a lot of pinche pendejo gabacho and other vocabulary fillers my El Salvadorian friends at high school already taught me...
J.M. Cornwell
Aug 04, 2008 J.M. Cornwell rated it it was amazing
Everything you wanted to know about Mexicans and aren’t afraid to ask.

What began the editor’s idea for filler in the Orange County Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, became a true gold mine of information and fascinating facts in Gustavo Arellano’s hands.

¡Ask a Mexican! is irreverent, bold, politically incorrect and wonderfully witty and informative. Riding the razor’s edge of wit and intelligent information, Arellano pulls no punches as he explains what it is to be
May 13, 2009 Sus rated it liked it
Shelves: 50books_poc
In general, I think this is great -- I really like Arellano's blend of no-holds-barred, vernacular lewdness with his periodic (and totally coherent) references to journal articles and his academic experience as a sociology M.S. (Do you want the lewd answer, the Catholic answer, the socioeconomic answer, or the pre-Christian-cultural-traditions answer?) It does, yes, deploy a lot of stereotypes and a lot of hard language, but I agree with Arellano that there's a lot to be said for engaging equall ...more
May 05, 2008 Regina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A mostly lewd and crude question-and-answer style book highlighting Mexican stereotypes written by a Master’s Degree holding son of two illegal tomato canning immigrants. Sometimes insightful-- his chapter about the plight of illegal day laborers is heart wrenching—but he manages to get his point across with humor. Arellano addresses the most important of the Mexican questions when he answers, “What’s with Mexicans’ obsession with Morrissey?” The answer is simple: death and disenfranchisement ar ...more
Suzanne Moore
Mar 21, 2013 Suzanne Moore rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The questions asked are anonymously given, creating a no-holds-barred kind of feel for the Q&A format Arellano uses. I understand his intentions where meant to be humorous and to a degree I can see that. But the topics seem a bit heavy on the sexual side of Hispanic culture. Maybe it would be better to say repetitive with use of the same vulgarities to describe just about everything. Yes I get it that Latinos are "hot, sexy lovers" but I would have liked hearing more about everyday Mexican c ...more
Sandy Bielinski-Rice
Jun 22, 2016 Sandy Bielinski-Rice rated it it was amazing
Gustavo Arellano addresses everything we are curious about Mexicans and are afraid to ask. Have you ever wondered why many Mexicans have two last names? Mexicans often name their children with a first name, fathers last name, and then mothers last name. My favorite part of this book talks about music. The first song Arellano explains is “La Cucaracha” which most of us know means “the cockroach.” Come to find out “La Cucaracha is one of the oldest songs in Hispanic culture” and the lyrics are mak ...more
Jan 10, 2010 Adam rated it really liked it
Got a question you’ve just been dying to ask your pocho Mexican friend but you’re too afraid to ask? Ever wondered why a lot of Mexican music sounds just like polka? Or curious about what type of tequila is the best? What to call a group of them? Mexican? Hispanic? Chicano? Well here’s your not-so-official guide to Mexicans, or more poignantly, your guide to Mexicans living in south Los Angeles. Gustavo Arellano, author of “Ask a Mexican!,” has collected some of his most hilarious, outlandish, a ...more
Aug 25, 2009 Angel rated it liked it
The book has some slow parts, but most of it has some good humor. Maybe because I am Latino (but not Mexican; I am Puerto Rican), I was able to appreciate some of the humor more. There are some things that Latinos, no matter which part of Latin American, say and do universally. The best part of the book were the short question and answer questions. I could read through those pretty quickly. Some of the longer essay segments were hit and miss. Some were interesting; others were a little on the sl ...more
Sep 21, 2014 Chechoui rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
I've read the author's newspaper column and have heard him on the radio numerous occasions. I very much respect his body of work, but this book wasn't for me. I thought there was going to be more educational answers to cultural questions along with the humor. I though there would be more inclusion of the sociological etymology of various Mexican cultural customs, not just tongue in cheek answers to many borderline racist questions posed. I got about 80 pages through and gave up as I wasn't learn ...more
Jun 14, 2009 Jim rated it really liked it
Drawn from the author's column in the Orange County Weekly, this is, by turns, funny, off-color, outrageous, and informative. I think it's one of the better books I've read in my quest to understand my neighbors.

The son of immigrants, Arellano mixes humor and a lot of solid information, answering questions like:

- Why do Mexicans like tamales so much?

- Why are Charles Bronson's Death Wish movies so popular?

- Why are Mexican obsenities so creative and expressive?

- Why is Morrisey the most popula
cristina g. dowdle
Apr 09, 2016 cristina g. dowdle rated it it was amazing
I love this book! So many people borrowed this book from me & it was one that I kept close tabs on! I re-read small portions of it when I need a good laugh. Have bought multiple copies for friends & family to enjoy. Oh, and you don't have to be a Mexican to enjoy this, but it helps!
Aug 26, 2007 Christina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves or hates Mexicans, or is even just slightly curious about Mexicans...:-P
The author of this book write a Q-&-A column for the OCWeekly newspaper called "Ask a Mexican," and "the Mexican" answers any & all questions about everything & anything Mexican. It's funny, rather insightful, sarcastic and blunt. Very no-holds-barred. And rather 99.9% correct. (The .1% is deducted for subtle variances with language...otherwise, very good to go!) My Mexican boyfriend & I are both enjoying it -- I'm reading it, and I share parts with him and we discuss them...ofte ...more
Mar 14, 2014 Shirley rated it liked it
Pretty interesting and funny. I do kind of want to ask Gustavo though, how come in Spanish all Asians are Chino but if we mix up Mexicans with Peruvians or Guatemalans etc, it's all over?
Michele Beacham
Apr 03, 2014 Michele Beacham rated it liked it
Read this in preparation to go see Gustavo Arellano speak this month. I really enjoyed it, and I'd definitely recommend it even if just for the essay response to the question, "Why do Mexicans like Morrissey so much?"
Feb 23, 2009 Mark rated it it was ok
Everything that is wrong and right with alternative press newspapers (since the book is essentially a compilation of an alt newspaper column by the same title as the book):

A willingness to tackle touchy subjects
A specific tone & viewpoint
A blistering sense of humor

An overweening love for shock ("how lewd can I be?")
A tendency to beat dead horses to death a second time (we get it - it's all about sex)
Difficulty viewing complex problems from any viewpoint but their own

With all that,
Ismaias Recinos
Nov 21, 2015 Ismaias Recinos rated it liked it
Good read, gives humorous insight into the intricacies of Hispanic culture and how interwoven it is with American values.
Dec 05, 2008 Kristi rated it did not like it
Recommended to Kristi by: book club
not loving it.
the author totally relies on cliches and stereotypes (he says he "explores" them, which doesn't really happen). i realize stereotypes are often grounded in reality, but it bugs me that, much like african-americans using the "n" word, this book is supposed to be humorous because it is written by a mexican, but if written by anyone else, it would be offensive and racist. i don't think it adds much or helps in the way of explaining a culture. instead, the author just seems to rely o
Stacey D.
Very funny and the Spanish was terrific with lots of great pinche words! I have loved Mexico and its people since my first visit there in 1977 (the best thing my mom ever did was take me on vacation there at 14) and have been back many times. This book gave me a more realistic picture of the country and Mexicans.

Arellano is funny, but at times irritating and seems to sum up all the answers to readers' questions and his views with some form of negativity against the Guatemalans (not cool) and us
Ramiro Chacon
Feb 09, 2014 Ramiro Chacon rated it really liked it
Funny, witty and educational. Must read for Mexicans or anyone interested in learning about Mexican culture. My favorite chapters were the ones on immigration and food. Overall, a good read though I must admit it does get repetitive towards the end because of the question and answer format. Beyond that, everything you ever wanted to know about Mexicans is in this book.
Feb 06, 2009 Natalie rated it liked it
I heard about this book in a magazine. Apparently, the book is based on a running article in the Orange County Weekly. A Mexican answers questions from readers. Many of the questions are racist and insulting but the writer responds with clever, tongue in cheek answers. Warning: there are a lot of swear words in the book, both in English and Spanish. Also, some discussion of sex. But it reveals a lot of cultural biases and some of the truths or misconceptions behind them.The writer pokes fun at e ...more
Cynthia  Scott
Sep 05, 2013 Cynthia Scott rated it liked it
This is an irreverent but probably pretty accurate culture history, anthropology if you will, of the people who have immigrated to the United States in the last sixty years to better their lives. It is compiled for Arrellano's widely newspaper column, "Ask a Mexican." It answers the questions to lots of curiosities about the habits of the relocated Mexican villagers who settle in tight communities retaining many habits while adopting new ones.

Very funny, very spicy! A very good book to read if
Jul 16, 2010 Just_Me rated it really liked it
As a mexican myself, I found this book to be funny. I've never read his newspaper column, but a lot of what Arellano says is true. He tells it like it is while mixing in some humor.
Some of my favorite parts are: How porn changed his life, When he hangs out with the day laborers, and his guide on how to "Live Like an Illegal Immigrant!".
"Insurmountable odds have a way of bringing out the
best in humans. And its the poorest of the poor who
not only survive in tough times, but also thrive"

Jul 29, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Growing up in a Hispanic family, I often found myself wondering why we and people people we knew did some of the things we did - and apparently we weren't the only ones! Gustavo Arellano's book is an interesting and irreverent look at Latino culture, told with just enough attitude to keep it fun. If you can't take a little ribbing or are easily offended when someone brings up tired old stereotypes of Hispanics - even to bash them - this proably isn't the book for you, but if you can laugh with u ...more
Aug 20, 2008 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book was like reliving the last 12 years of me asking Eddie questions about why Mexicans do this that or the other thing. Gustavo Arellano is (usually) a bit more caustic than Eddie, but is entertaining nonetheless. I was a bit disappointed at times when I was hoping for a real answer to a question and just got a joke or insult for the question asker. Sometimes he does a lot of research into the answer, and some times not so much. I have to say I appreciate it a lot more when he doe ...more
Jan 03, 2008 Leslie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: white folks, gringos, gabachos
The author has a column and website in which he answers crazy questions about Mexicans from Mexicans and non-Mexicans alike. The author usually responds with a well-researched answer, citing statistics and studies. The author takes a humorous approach, all the while enlightening us with facts such as Mexicans like Morrisey (who knew?) and big butts. He also answers questions about illegal immigration, etc. Call him the Dear Abby of Mexicans. He answers all the questions you're afraid to ask.
Anna Mojica
Mar 31, 2012 Anna Mojica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is based on a columnist for the OC Weekly newspaper. I have read his column for years. I read this book with an open mind. I figured that I have some Mexican in my then why not?! Some of the things I already knew. I learned a lot about the Mexican culture that family can not tell me. Yes some things were repetitive or plain ignorant but I know from the author he was just being sarcastic and funny. Some things might offend people, if this is you then don't bother to read.
Jan 03, 2009 Mary rated it it was ok
I wanted to really like this book but as I read the language just got worse. There are so many things you just don't need to know in it. Vulgar and gross. So I skipped through to some of the stuff that I thought was okay and enjoyed the very few there were. Could've been so much more fun. The parts that weren't foul were funny and entertaining. I don't really recommend this book to anyone unless you don't mind bad language and sexual content. Books need ratings.
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Gustavo Arellano is the author of ¡Ask a Mexican!, a nationally syndicated weekly column published by Orange County's alternative weekly OC Weekly. It was first published in 2004 as a one-time spoof, but it ended up becoming one of the weekly's most popular columns.

Every week, readers would submit their questions based on Mexicans, including their customs, labor issues, and illegal immigration. Ar
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“Your life depends on a random stranger who could kill you, will probably disrespect you, and will most likely pay you much less than you deserve. But even those prospects are better than the ones you used to have. This is the life of los jornaleros – the day laborers.” 14 likes
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