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Red-Inked Retablos

Rigoberto González

Publication Year: 2013

In the Mexican Catholic tradition, retablos are ornamental structures made of carved wood framing an oil painting of a devotional image, usually a patron saint. Acclaimed author and essayist Rigoberto González commemorates the passion and the pain of these carvings in his new volume Red-Inked Retablos, a moving memoir of human experience and thought.

This frank new collection masterfully combines accounts from González’s personal life with reflections on writers who have influenced him. The collection offers an in-depth meditation on the development of gay Chicano literature and the responsibilities of the Chicana/o writer.

Widely acclaimed for giving a voice to the Chicano GLBT community, González’s writing spans a wide range of genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual books for children and young adults. Introduced by Women’s Studies professor Maythee Rojas, Retablos collects thirteen pieces that together provide a narrative of González’s life from his childhood through his career as a writer, critic, and mentor.

In Red-Inked Retablos, González continues to expand his oeuvre on mariposa (literally, “butterfly”) memory, a genre he pioneered in which Chicano/a writers openly address [non-traditional] sexuality. For González, mariposa memory is important testimony not only about reconfiguring personal identity in relation to masculinity, culture, and religion. It’s also about highlighting values like education, shaping a sex-positive discourse, and exercising agency through a public voice. It’s about making the queer experience a Chicano experience and the Chicano experience a queer one.

In the Mexican Catholic tradition, retablos are ornamental structures made of carved wood framing an oil painting of a devotional image, usually a patron saint. Acclaimed author and essayist Rigoberto González commemorates the passion and the pain of these carvings in his new volume Red-Inked Retablos, a moving memoir of human experience and thought.

This frank new collection masterfully combines accounts from González’s personal life with reflections on writers who have influenced him. The collection offers an in-depth meditation on the development of gay Chicano literature and the responsibilities of the Chicana/o writer.

Widely acclaimed for giving a voice to the Chicano GLBT community, González’s writing spans a wide range of genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and bilingual books for children and young adults. Introduced by Women’s Studies professor Maythee Rojas, Retablos collects thirteen pieces that together provide a narrative of González’s life from his childhood through his career as a writer, critic, and mentor.

 

In Red-Inked Retablos, González continues to expand his oeuvre on mariposa (literally, “butterfly”) memory, a genre he pioneered in which Chicano/a writers openly address non-traditional sexuality. For González, mariposa memory is important testimony not only about reconfiguring personal identity in relation to masculinity, culture, and religion. It’s also about highlighting values like education, shaping a sex-positive discourse, and exercising agency through a public voice. It’s about making the queer experience a Chicano experience and the Chicano experience a queer one.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-9

Contents

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pp. ix-11

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Foreword: When Butterflies Are Red: Mariposa Literary Activism

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pp. xi-xviii

Rigoberto González’s most recent visit to my home in early 2012 brought with it a familiar sense of comfort. As always, I looked forward to hosting my longtime friend, fellow critic, and, at heart, soul brother with whom I share an almost twenty-year kinship. Indeed, while Rigoberto’s writing never fails to reveal...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xix-21

Thanks are due to the following publications in which some of these es-says were published: Cimarron Review: “The Poet Ai: An Appreciation”; Crab Orchard Review: “The Truman Capote Aria”; In the Grove: “Andrés Montoya: The Ice Worker Still Sings”; and Water-Stone Review: “Orphans Part I of “Memory Lessons, Memory Lesions” appeared in Family ...

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Introduction: About Retablos, About Mariposa Memory

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pp. xxi-xxii

In the Mexican Catholic tradition, retablos are ornamental structures made of carved wood framing an oil painting of a devotional image, usually a patron saint. Mexican and Chicana/o artists have gestured toward these religious altar essentials to construct interpretations that challenge, re-imagine, critique, or pay homage...

Self-Portraits

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pp. xxiii-51

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The Truman Capote Aria

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pp. 1-14

Television was one of our English teachers in the 1980s, the decade we had to adjust to our new home in the United States. Four branches of the González family lived together in a three-bedroom apartment in Thermal, California; the school-age generation included eight cousins, my younger brother Alex, and me. Each evening the ten...

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Confessions of a Gay Catholic Boy

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pp. 15-19

In May 2010 I made a special trip to México to baptize my nephew André. This was a trip made under duress because Lupe, my sister-in-law, insisted that her son be baptized before his first birthday. (Ten years before I went through the same pressure when I became my niece Halima’s godfather.) I never quite understood...

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Orphans in the Terrorist World

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pp. 21-32

September 12. The date comes around each year, wearing the ugliest window on the calendar. As of 2001, it brings its equally grotesque older sibling, September 11. The two dates grate on me like subway trains shrieking to a halt on both sides of the platform. I’m forced to reckon with two days of remembrance...

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Easter Rock: 1983

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pp. 33-37

My family took to Easter much like it took to Halloween because even though we were a non-church-going Day-of-the-Dead–celebrating immigrant family from Michoacán, we wanted to fit in. We nailed down the basics— plastic Easter eggs filled with candy, marshmallow Peeps, and chocolates shaped...

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Memory Lessons, Memory Lesions

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pp. 39-51

Like any memoirist who writes so revealingly about family, I’m inevitably asked what my family thinks about my work, which is a diplomatic way of asking how my family feels about my showing the world the intimate portraits of our household. How does my aunt sleep at night knowing...

Studies

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pp. 53-108

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Andrés Montoya: The Ice Worker Still Sings

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pp. 55-66

In the year 2000 I received an invitation from the Before Columbus Foundation to celebrate the recipients of the American Book Award. Among the winners listed was the iceworker sings by Andrés Montoya, a first book of poetry published by Bilingual Press in 1999, the same year my first book had been released. Although my...

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The Poet Ai: An Appreciation

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pp. 67-80

When the poet Ai passed away on March 20, 2010, very few details surfaced about the circumstances of her death. Even the report of her passing moved very slowly through the social networking channels. I found out through a text from a friend who came across an unconfirmed statement made by a virtual friend...

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Beloved Jotoranos

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pp. 81-92

I will refer to my literary forefathers as antepasados, acknowledging the cultural connection of our shared Mexican (south of the border) and Chicano (north of the border) heritage. But I’d like to take it a step further, and recognize another important commonality: our homosexual...

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Lullaby from Thomas James

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pp. 93-100

There was something about Sylvia Plath that appealed to a young closeted farmworker kid like me back in 1988, my first semester in college at the University of California, Riverside, my first exposure to this huge presence in American poetry. That initial encounter was through an explication exercise in a composition...

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Roxana’s Melody

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pp. 101-108

Roxana Rivera was introduced to me in the spring of 2002. I usually flew into Los Angeles for Thanksgiving to celebrate with my good friend Maythee Rojas, whom I refer to as my sister—her family now my family. Maythee had invited me to partake of chompipe...

Speeches

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pp. 109-128

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To the Writer, to the Activist, to the Citizen

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pp. 111-118

Note: The National Latino Writers Conference (NLWC) held its first formal meeting in 2003 and is the only national writers conference to tailor its work-shops and panel discussions exclusively for a Latino audience. The conference is sponsored by the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is under the direction of Carlos Vásquez. Mr. Vásquez invited me to ...

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The Gay Brown Beret Suite

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pp. 119-128

Note: Professor Don Gagnon, the board representative of the LGBT and popular culture caucuses, invited me to be a featured speaker at the Northeast Modern Language Association’s thirtieth anniversary conference in Boston. He had read my memoir Butterfly Boy and was particularly interested that I address in my...

Trinity

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pp. 129-140

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Toward a Mariposa Consciousness

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pp. 131-140

Chew with your mouth open. No, this isn’t an affront to Mami’s lessons on table manners because even though it’s her rule she didn’t come up with it. Neither did she invent such maxims as “boys don’t cry” and “boys don’t play with dolls.” It is no more her fault than it is yours to have been born a boy with a prescription attached...

About the Author

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pp. 141-166


E-ISBN-13: 9780816599929
E-ISBN-10: 0816599920
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816521357
Print-ISBN-10: 0816521352

Page Count: 165
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Camino del Sol

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