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.
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