Memory Fever

Overview

For poet Ray Gonzalez, growing up in El Paso during the 1960s was a time of loneliness and vulnerability. He encountered discrimination in high school not only for being Latino but also for being a non-athlete in a school where sports were important. Like many young people, he found diversion in music; unlike most, he found solace in the desert. In these vignettes, Gonzalez shares memories of boyhood that tell how he discovered the natural world and his creative spirit. Through 29 storylike essays, he takes ...

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Overview

For poet Ray Gonzalez, growing up in El Paso during the 1960s was a time of loneliness and vulnerability. He encountered discrimination in high school not only for being Latino but also for being a non-athlete in a school where sports were important. Like many young people, he found diversion in music; unlike most, he found solace in the desert. In these vignettes, Gonzalez shares memories of boyhood that tell how he discovered the natural world and his creative spirit. Through 29 storylike essays, he takes readers into the heart of the desert and the soul of a developing poet. Gonzalez introduces us to the people who shaped his life. We learn of his father's difficulties with running a pool hall and of his grandmother's steadfast religious faith. We meet sinister Texas Rangers, hallucinatory poets, illegal aliens, and racist high school jocks. His vivid recollections embrace lizard hunts and rattlesnake dreams, rock music and menudo making—all in stories that convey the pains and joys of growing up on the border. As Gonzalez leads us through his desert of hope and vision, we come to recognize the humor and sadness that permeate this special place.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A poet and editor of anthologies, Gonzalez ( Without Discovery: A Native Response to Columbus ) offers 29 essays and vignettes ranging from his 1960s boyhood in El Paso to his confrontation with his Chicano identity. His youthful practice of cutting tails off lizards--part of ``the timeless drama between the hunter and prey''--reminds him of Vietnam veteran accounts of cutting ears off dead Viet Cong. A trip to the ``zoo-like'' tourist atmosphere of the Taos Pueblo provokes a sense of shame that propels him to the shrine of writer D. H. Lawrence. An ode to the stew-like dish menudo leads Gonzalez to marvel, ``You slurp it like an anteater slurps ants. . . . No one takes their time eating menudo.'' A few essays highlight a broad American-ness, such as Gonzalez's memoir of discovering rock music at Woolworth's in 1964. Though this is an autobiography of sorts, the essays never acquire synergistic power, since Gonzalez provides few autobiographical details, and too many of the pieces are slight. Nevertheless, he writes fluidly, and some essays resonate, such as the final one, which travels deftly and impressionistically ``through my desert of hope and vision.'' (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816520114
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Series: Camino del Sol
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 223
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ray Gonzalez is a professor of literature at the University of Minnesota, he is the author of 14 books and has also edited more than a dozen anthologies of poetry and fiction and is the recipient of the Carr P. Collins/Texas Institute of Letters Award, the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award, the Western Heritage Award, the Latino Heritage Award, and the Minnesota Book Award.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Mi Tierra 3
The Light 7
The Sparrows 11
The Burning 15
Rattlesnake Dreams 19
The Third Eye of the Lizard 35
Haunted Adobe 45
Taos, 1977 53
White Sands 63
Peace Grove 73
Crossing to America 79
Without Discovery 83
The Active Poet 93
Road Kills 101
Mama Mescal 111
Mama Menudo 115
Christmas Tamales 119
The Blue Room 127
Tio Jose 131
My Father's Pool Hall, 1964 133
Rocking Out at Woolworth's 141
Guitar Picks 149
Go! T-Birds! Go! 157
California, 1976 167
Confessions and Communions 173
Abuelita 179
With Neruda in the Desert 183
Weeping Saints 193
Memory Fever 205
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