cover image Red-Inked Retablos

Red-Inked Retablos

Rigoberto Gonz%C3%A1lez. Univ. of Arizona, $19.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-8165-2135-7

A sharp collection of 13 pieces%E2%80%94personal essays, literary criticism, and speeches%E2%80%94this book pleasantly mixes lyricism with clear-eyed frankness. Poet Gonz%C3%A1lez, author of the memoir Butterfly Boy, writes beautifully and searingly about his experiences as a gay Latino, and the work of his fellow queer and Latina/o writers. It's to Gonz%C3%A1lez's credit that his essays and literary criticism share similarities, intelligently analyzing his own experiences in the former, and foregrounding the raw connections people have with books in the latter. The critical essays focus on fellow Latina/o poets and queer poets%E2%80%94often those who have died%E2%80%94and he refreshingly embraces his connection with them both as a reader and, sometimes as a colleague and friend. The speeches carry a fiercer tone coupled with a call-to-arms piece for queer Latina/os. The end of the book makes an articulate and beautifully unapologetic case for art and activism from his two communities, queer and Latina/o (and not letting them off the hook, Gonz%C3%A1lez criticizes each community for habitual exclusion of the other). In recounting his experiences and arguments, Gonz%C3%A1lez's voice finds a wonderful synergy, staying intimate, compassionate, and uncompromising. (Mar.)