Reviews in 200 Words

Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

In Memoir, Nonfiction on October 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm

One may initially be attracted to Richard Rodriguez’s memoir as the author’s face plastered on the asymmetrical cover looks not to the observer, but to the side, contemplative and anxious, as if wondering if such frank and private thoughts belong in the public sphere at all. Crack it open. Turn that doubting expression to the table. After all, Rodriguez seeks affirmation, whether through his family, his church, his race, his school, and most importantly, through himself. Only a scholarship boy, a term of no endearment for Rodriguez, can adequately and fairly handle a subject which fills even himself with great ambivalence—the mutability of the first generation immigrant. He is constantly torn between his roots and his trajectory in every capacity, and although his struggles as a Mexican boy in California in the middle of the 20th century are enlightening in their specificity, they remain even more so in their universality. Even his words are distinctly conflicted, his crystalline prose unable to dismiss the romanticism and importance of his own family’s language. Trapped between comfort and ambition, privacy and acceptance, the new and the old, Rodriguez finds fulfillment the only way an insecure academic can: writing. He corners his past and allows us to intrude.

-Chris Noel

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