Saturday, August 16, 2014

Maria Venegas

Maria Venegas's new memoir is Bulletproof Vest: The Ballad of an Outlaw and His Daughter.

From a Q & A at her website:

In Bulletproof Vest, your first book, you write about your family, especially your father, who led a very tumultuous and violent life. How did you decide to write about him? Was it difficult to take on such a personal subject?

My father used to be my best-kept secret. For years I never talk about him, or the past. When I was a child, he seemed to be larger than life, indestructible, but when I finally returned to Mexico to visit him after having been estranged for 14 years, he seemed deflated, somehow. On the day I was to return to New York, he drove me to the bus station, and when we hugged goodbye his chin started quivering. I thought he'd drive me to the station, we'd say goodbye, and that would be the end of it, but his sudden display of emotions caused something to shift within me. Over the next several years I continued to visit him during the holidays and summers, and he began sharing stories about his past—when he was seven years old and was being bullied at school, his mother handed him a carving knife and told him to go eff those kids up; after shooting a man for the first time when he was 12 years old, his mother never lost an opportunity to brag about her son and how brave he was. Perhaps sharing these stories was his way of explaining to me why he had lived such a violent and self-destructive life. I felt compelled to write about him, to try and make sense of how he was wired. It was through the writing that I developed empathy for him, and came to embrace him for who he was.

To answer your second question, there is that old saying: Write what scares you. I never thought I'd be writing about my past—especially not my father. To write about the past is to relive it, and even though that was extremely painful, it was ...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue