One of the wonderful things about living in Texas is that it means living next door to a whole ‘nother country. Political hoo-ha aside, this geographical situation has a lot of cool cultural implications, and affords interesting opportunities such as the event I attended last evening, “Border Writers / Escritores de le Frontera: A Literary Symposium.”
The event featured readings by seven writers whose work highlighted the cultures of Mexico and North American border states, and the way the cultures blend to form something new and unique. Their work also reflected the struggles of people who find themselves in a limbo of un-belonging in either place. Reyna Grande read from her memoir about being rejected by her friends in Mexico after immigrating to the US; Domingo Martinez read of his sisters’ humorous but heartbreaking attempts to pretend at being rich white girls.
Martinez’s reading from his 2012 National Book Award finalist memoir, The Boy Kings of Texas, was the undisputed highlight of the evening. But I was already familiar with Martinez’s work and so I wasn’t surprised by how good it was. Chuy Ramirez, on the other hand, was a name I hadn’t heard before, and his reading from his short story collection, Strawberry Fields, blew me out of my chair.