I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Rigoberto Gonzalez April 16th, 2015. Prior to this dinner, I sat, front row, at his reading at the UConn Co-Op (brought to our campus but the Creative Writing Program). He read excerpts of his novels and discussed his experiences through his writings.
Non-fiction was never a genre I particularly paid attention to. I was one for reading fiction and trying to find ways to relate to the characters living in different situations. Something I failed to do was sit down and face the realities of life: this was where Gonzalez changed that for me.
Through his reading, I noticed how personal it was to him. Letting go of his work, to get it published, was something that he found to be difficult because he was letting the world know of his story from his perspective. I loved knowing how his story was being read to a room full of people: as he has become so comfortable with telling his view of his story.
One particular moment was talking about his father and the relationship that they did not have. Through his writing he gave his characters a broken relationship, mirroring his own, but reactions that his father had never done, or that he wished he would have.
At dinner, I took note of his sassiness as he ordered martini after martini and we carried out conversations about our days, our travels, his journey as a writer. He reminded me about my passion for ethnic literature and the change I wanted to provide to the popularity of the genre.
Gonzalez has written So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, Antonio’s Card, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, The Mariposa Club, Red-Inked Retablos, Unpeopled Eden, and many more. He has also received notable awards for his work.