I haven’t done a book review for a while, but what I read yesterday warranted this review.
I’ve read two of Gabino Iglesias’s books, Coyote Songs and The Devil Takes You Home.
Gabino is one of those writers who can rip your heart out with a turn of phrase. He can melt your heart on the next page.
The Devil Takes You Home is both of these. While reading it, I stared at the prose, analyzing how he constructed everything.
I’ve taken a few classes from Gabino. He’s one of those writers who will offer help if you need it. He pushes you to get better at the craft of writing. In the last class I took from him, he said he was looking forward to what I was working on. He had no idea what I was working on, but he’s always nudging you to keep going.
There were so many instances in the book I could see the determination he talks about on Twitter in the main character whose life has been turned upside down. It’s been a while since I could relate so well to a character.
There’s this constant thing in this book about being brown, white, or black in America. I am a white guy. I grew up in Utah and Wyoming. There were times we didn’t have enough food. My parents couldn’t afford preschool, so I went to HeadStart, but at the core of me is my whiteness. I won’t ever see the struggle of a brown man in America. I won’t get the racial jabs or the straight-out racist bullshit on the book’s pages. This is because of my skin tone.
Gabino dives into that at various points in the book because that is his worldview. That’s the world he’s lived in since he was born. One quote from the book will always stand out to me, “A silent ally isn’t a thing.” That floored me. My position as a CisHet, White Male, is the golden ticket. I become more aware of this every day.
I can’t say that I’ve never seen racism. I have. I’ve heard people say the N-word in front of me. Growing up in one of the whitest states in America, you hear these words from family or friends growing up. Those words aren’t treated how they should be because it’s a joke to them. Making friends with many people of various ethnicities, gender identities, and sexual preferences makes you realize how others are treated. This is something I’m more aware of than I used to be.
I read to learn. This is as much a topic in fiction as nonfiction. We’re not moving forward if we’re not learning about other cultures. If we’re ignoring writers like Gabino because of where he’s from, Puerto Rico, we’re doing a severe disservice to ourselves.