A selection from Rigoberto González's forthcoming memoir appears in the Los Angeles Times.
The child of Mexican farmworkers, Critic at Large Rigoberto González grew up in a California household of 19 people. He became a writer and moved to New York; his brother Alex returned to Mexico. Both were diagnosed with a similar neurological disorder around the same time, as he recounts in his new memoir, "What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: A Memoir of Brotherhood" (University of Wisconsin Press, $24.95), excepted below:
Summer 2014. My mobility had improved under the care of a new doctor. The formula was actually quite simple: rest, diet and exercise. But simple formulas were the easiest to neglect, particularly as an academic. Meetings took precedence over meals, grading and class preparation ate up my sleep time, the commute to the university stressed my body, especially when no one on the NYC subway trains offered me a seat even though I struggled to maintain my balance while leaning on a cane. But as soon as summer arrived I stayed close to home, taking early morning walks, and regulating my eating and sleeping schedules. By now I had distanced myself from most of my acquaintances, so I had all the permission I needed to hide out and focus on my writing, which was the only pleasure I had left. Writing allowed me to vacate this body and its inconvenient limitations. Sometimes I became so consternated when I woke up to the reality of my weaknesses that I scrambled to the computer in order to escape all over again.