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Arte Público Press Author Interview: Dr. José B. González

A Salvadoran immigrant observes positive and negative aspects of his life, fantasies and aspirations in the movie theaters and on television

Photo of Dr. José B. González - Author of When Love Was Reels
Dr. José B. González – Author of When Love Was Reels

In his new poetry collection When Love Was Reelsauthor Dr. José B. González  takes us back to his very early years in El Salvador.  In response to political and economic difficulties, his parents have left for the United States. José is cared for by his grandmother who frequently takes him to the movies.  On the screen, José observes situations  taken from his own daily  life such as poverty, abandoned children forced into street crime and the challenges of (very) young love.     

At the age of eight, José makes the journey to the United States in order to join his family.  José initially moves into an apartment  with his childless uncle who advises José to “bury” any memories he might have of his grandmother or any other aspects of his former life in El Salvador.  José’s uncle is forced  to  work several jobs in order to survive and José has ample time to watch American television in order to learn English.  His experiences watching The Cisco Kid, Chico and the Man and Fantasy Island  (among others) help to shape José’s image of his new home. 

Even working several jobs, José’s uncle is unable to bring in enough money to pay off his debts  and the monthly bills. José resorts to small time thievery just to have enough to eat.  Inspired by  such films as The Warriors, Boulevard Nights, Zoot Suite and Scarface,  José and some of his friends consider gang life. However, they quickly discover the differences between  the images on the screen and the reality of the street.   

 

More information available at www.artepublicopress.com

 

Houston Public Media’s Eric Ladau spoke with Dr. González.

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Eric Ladau

Eric Ladau

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NightClassics host and Station Tour Coordinator Eric Ladau graduated from Illinois State University in 1979 with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication. While in college, he worked at KFJM in Grand Forks North Dakota and WGLT in Bloomington, Illinois. He hosted jazz, classical, folk and blues music programs and even...

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