Memoir and Southwest

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Hoe, Heaven, and Hell: My Boyhood in Rural New Mexico

Nasario García

First Place Winner of the 2016 International Latino Book Award for Best Autobiography, English

Winner of the 2016 Fabiola Cabeza de Baca Award from the Historical Society of New Mexico

Winner of the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards for Biography—New Mexico Subject and Best Book on New Mexico

When Nasario García was a boy in Ojo del Padre, a village in the Rio Puerco Valley northwest of Albuquerque, he grew up the way rural New Mexicans had for generations. His parents built their own adobe house, raised their own food, hauled their water from the river, and brought up their children to respect the old ways. In this account of his boyhood García writes unforgettably about his family’s village life, telling story after story, all of them true, and fascinating everyone interested in New Mexico history and culture.


Folklorist and native New Mexican Nasario García has published numerous books about Hispanic folklore and the oral history of northern New Mexico, including Grandma’s Santo on Its Head / El santo patas arriba de mi abuelita: Stories of Days Gone By in Hispanic Villages of New Mexico / Cuentos de días gloriosos en pueblitos hispanos de Nuevo México and Grandpa Lolo’s Navajo Saddle Blanket: La tilma de Abuelito Lolo (UNM Press). He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


“A volume of wondrous stories told through García’s gathered remembrances of his early boyhood . . . (and) an insightful profile of the culture of a rural Hispanic New Mexico village in the Río Puerco Valley in the early 1940s.”


Albuquerque Journal

Hoe, Heaven, and Hell mixes childhood autobiography with poems, common sayings and superstitions, recipes and holiday and wedding menus, lists of garden vegetables and animals raised on the land, and other mundane accountings that are fascinating in their details. It’s a rich and revealing account of how rural Hispanic parents raised their offspring, demanding strict obedience from them and forming intense family bonds while finding transcendence in their Catholic faith and survival in their adherence to a strenuous set of daily farm and ranch chores.”



“There are plenty of good stories in Hoe, Heaven, and Hell . . . all of them told in the spirit of his mother’s dicho which serves as one of the epigraphs: ‘On this earth there is nothing better than to have a kind heart.’ And that, throughout the book, the author displays in abundance.”


Southwestern American Literature

“An excellent collection of folklore and cultural treasures that one can consult over and over again.”


New Mexico Historical Review

“A saga of ranch life, community bonds, the omnipresent threat of drought, and more, Hoe, Heaven, and Hell is the first-person testimony of a traditional way of life that is all but vanished in America today. Highly recommended.”


Midwest Book Review

“Reading Dr. Nasario García’s inspiring tome Hoe, Heaven, and Hell: My Boyhood in Rural New Mexico rekindled so many wonderful experiences of growing up in Peñasco and being around matanzas.”


6 x 9 in. 360 pages 18 halftones, 1 drawing, 2 maps