Rodriguez portrays Mexico and the United States as moral rivals for California. Tragic Mexico and the comedic United States, ironically, have traded roles by the end of the twentieth century. Rodriguez's ferocious essays are no more regional than were Montaigne's. His play of ideas and incident, the scope of these essays, becomes a spiritual autobiography.
"Mexicans have invaded American privacy to babysit or to watch the dying or to wash lipstick off the cocktail glasses. Mexicans have forced Southwestern Americans to speak Spanish whenever they want their eggs fried or their roses pruned."
Or this -
"San Diego may worry about Mexican hordes crawling over the border. Mexico City worries about a cultural spill from the United States."
Rodriguez, already in his forties, when he wrote this book, officially came out in these pages, writing poignantly of friends lost to the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s in San Francisco, as well as his own struggles with repressed homosexuality.
I was looking for a good memoir, which I got, along with an education in myriad other things - about being gay and brown, and a man trying to make sense of it all, to find peace. And the best chapter was the last one, about his childhood and youth in Sacramento, taught by Irish nuns and Christian Brothers. And about his parents - especially his father, who grew up an orphan in Mexico. That last chapter alone made the trip worth while. Another enjoyable read from Richard Rodriguez. Very highly recommended.
- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER