An up-by-his-bootstraps San Jose businessman reflects on his rough-and-tumble California life in the ’60s.
Rodriguez is one tough old bird. He has cranked out a series of books (East Side Dreams, 1999; Forgotten Memories, 2002) after teaching himself to read and write and to work with proper grammar. Sure, his tale of hot-blooded youth has some rough edges and splinters, but he has placed profanity and sex outside the scope of his work, so even youngsters are welcome. Indeed, high-schoolers struggling with reading might find Rodriguez far more engaging than some of the remedial material on the school’s shelves. And those who lived through those roller-coaster years will enjoy the sobering journey back to the era when fights were â€œrumbles,” few people played with guns (fists were the primary weapons), drugs were an exotic Asian novelty, beer was the most popular intoxicant and gasoline cost 24 cents per gallon. It’s not literature, but Rodriguez’s writing is accessible and painstakingly crafted, and he has the committed storyteller’s knack for details–including a lively description of the layout of a drive-in movie theater. Moreover, it’s apparent that success hasn’t changed him–he remains true to his roots throughout, and presents an admirable tale of genuine Horatio Alger Americana.
A toast to Art, who survived serious scrapes with the law, as well as women in tight jeans and pouffed hair, and lived to entertain us with his tales.