cover image Autobiography of My Hungers

Autobiography of My Hungers

Rigoberto González. Univ. of Wisconsin, $19.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-299-29250-8

Through a series of tiny, radiantly moving vignettes, award-winning memoirist and poet González (Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa), a first-generation Mexican-American, has created a memoir through the lens of his hungers—for food, motherland, recognition, acceptance, passion, and love. Interspersed among these short prose pieces are piedritas, which Gonzáles explains as the bits of debris that, as a child, he had to sort from dry beans before cooking “to be tossed at the conclusion of the cleaning.” With their complexity, gleam, texture, and strength, he thought them “much more interesting than the beans, which huddled in the bowl, boring as clones.” In this book, they are represented by poems that function like arias, interrupting the narrative to express pure feeling in the present tense. Piled one upon another, the stories and poems paint a kaleidoscopic, painfully truthful self-portrait, like the “dazzling forest museum” made of junk by an old woman that González stumbled across in a trip to Switzerland, “gathering bits and pieces of this and that in order to build a gallery of tiny gems, colorful and edible as gumdrops.” Immigrant and gay readers may experience release in the book’s agonizing familiarity; all readers will find it lusciously evocative. (May)