Sunday, September 23, 2012

Days of Obligation

Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father, by Richard Rodriguez

This title caught my eye at work when I was finding a different work by the same author for somebody.  I appear to be the first person to check it out since it was 1993.  It took me a while to figure out that it's actually a collection of essays (which is what I get for not reading the acknowledgements), so it's a bit choppy, but all the essays are centered on the differences and influences and questions of identity between Mexico and California.  I probably didn't understand half of it.

I gather that Rodriguez was kind of an unusual writer in the 90s and people weren't always happy with him.  He is an American born of Mexican parents and grew up in Sacramento (his descriptions of Sac sure sounded familiar).  There are a lot of musings on how California and Mexico bleed into each other, and the influence of Catholicism versus Protestantism: "...I have told my friends that I was writing a book about California and Mexico.  That was not saying enough.  I've been writing a book about comedy and tragedy.  In my mind, in my life, Mexico plays the tragic part; California plays the role of America's wild child.  Or was I writing a book about competing theologies?"

I coincidentally wound up reading 3 Spanish-themed books at once, which is really pretty odd for me.  Having grown up in Southern California, I tend to think of anything Spanish as boring next-door stuff--famous California authors too.  I could happily live the rest of my life without ever visiting another mission (naturally, my NorCal daughter thinks they're fascinating and begs to go, and I do enjoy them more as an adult.  Still, I maintain that one of the great joys of homeschooling is that I don't have to build a mission in 4th grade unless I actually want to).  I like to study far-away languages and literature, and often ignore the good things right here at home. 


Faith said...

This book actually sounds very exotic to this east coast girl!

Jean said...

Yep--it's all about location! Which is why I shouldn't assume Steinbeck is boring just because he's local. :)