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Accordion Eulogies: A Memoir of Music, Migration, and Mexico
by Noé Álvarez
Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez never knew his grandfather. Stories swirled around this mythologized, larger-than-life figure: That he had abandoned his family, and had possibly done something awful that put a curse on his descendants. About his grandfather, young Noé was sure of only one thing: That he had played the accordion. Now an adult, reckoning with the legacy of silence surrounding his family’s migration from Mexico, Álvarez resolves both to take up the instrument and to journey into Mexico to discover the grandfather he never knew.
Álvarez travels across the US with his accordion, meeting makers and players in cities that range from San Antonio to Boston. He uncovers the story of an instrument that’s been central to classic American genres, but also played a critical role in indigenous Mexican history. Like the accordion itself, Álvarez feels trapped between his roots in Mexico and the U.S. As he tries to make sense of his place in the world—as a father, a son, a musician—he gets closer to uncovering the mystery of his origins.
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