Books by Ray Gonzalez

Released: Sept. 5, 2002

"Powerful, poetic, troubling."
Expatriate southwesterner Gonzalez (Literature/Univ. of Minnesota) returns to his stomping grounds to expatiate with passion and wisdom on rattlers, nuclear weapons, poverty, Chicano culture, cave drawings, the Alamo, and scorpions. Read full book review >
MEMORY FEVER by Ray Gonzalez
Released: May 15, 1993

Poet, editor (The Guadalupe Review), anthologist (Mirrors Beneath the Earth, 1992) Gonzalez offers thoughtful, imagistic essays and vignettes about growing up in the desert Southwest and into his literary calling. In the author's ``memory fever,'' the lizards and snakes he killed as a boy surface in poems—and in dreams that he analyzes (without dispelling their mystery) with the guidance of Jung and Native American traditions. Strange lights appear and reappear throughout the text, as does ``The Peace Grove''—a stand of cottonwoods planted by Pancho Villa on the Mexican side of the border, giving rise to a fantasy that the tree roots will absorb enough water to make the river border separating the two countries disappear. The desert fills Gonzalez with fear and wonder that he works out through his poems. He pays tribute to the poets who've taught and influenced him, and he looks back to the painful roots of his consciousness and the inner silence he uses poetry to break: Despite excellent school performance, Gonzalez was always a ``dumb Mexican''; in schoolyard games, his role was to hang from the monkey bars like a ``savage'' Indian and let the ``cowboys'' push his face into the dirt. He writes plainly and honestly about Mexican-American culture and family, but his takes on music are less effective: a conventional account of the rise of the Beatles; another piece for rock-'n'-roll aficionados only (e.g.: ``John Cippolina's growl on `The Fool'—the cosmic twelve-minute song which is the most important legacy of psychedelic music ever recorded''). A Chicano memoir that should speak affectingly to young poets. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1992

Thirty-one stories cover territory on both sides of the border, and show Mexican-American writers rooted in the culture on both sides of the hyphen. Some familiar subjects—gangbangers, barrio poverty, curanderos, Luis Alberto Urrea's fine, humorous magic realism—but the selections also expand predictable horizons. The protagonist of Dagoberto Gilb's story will be as recognizable to Anglo readers as a Raymond Carver antihero. Alberto Alvaro R°os offers a poignant, poetic, at times startling tale of a huge butcher's loneliness. Alma Villanueva skillfully brings myth into her brief story of Mexico City street-children. ``The Man Who Found A Pistol''—a stark tale of destiny—is an excellent choice from Rudolfo Anaya. The interpenetration of cultures shows up often: Leroy V. Quintana's singing car-mechanic segues naturally from ``BÇsame Mucho'' to ``Your Cheating Heart,'' while Ana Castillo has a more critical view of her place in America: the narrator of ``Subtitles'' feels she lives inside a foreign film (sometimes ``the locals have cultivated a certain taste for'' her accent while she must ``continue inventing and reinventing my roles...for the sake of your entertainment''). Benjamin Alire S†enz quietly demolishes stereotypes of machismo while telling a political story: his house-husband narrator interviews Central American refugees who need help from his lawyer-wife. Some stories (notably Ray Gonz†les's ``The Ghost of John Wayne,'' Jack L¢pez's ``La Luz'') start with fine writing and interesting premises but fail to reach satisfactory ends. Uneven quality (as in most such anthologies), but perhaps the best of recent compilations of Chicano (and Latino) fiction. Read full book review >