November 17, 2020
If you didn’t have a chance to join in the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing’s recent book celebration for Alberto Álvaro Ríos’s new picaresque novel, A Good Map of All Things, listen to this interview with KJZZ’s Steve Goldstein on creating art during a pandemic and his new book.
A Good Map tells stories of a Mexican town and its unique inhabitants that feel familiar to all who love and live in Arizona-Sonora borderlands.
From the interview:
You know, I think this particular book is about quiet in its own way, and quiet is not an easily told story. You know, loud — everybody turns toward loud, and we’re living in very loud times. Loud is a magnet. Loud, you know, people are drawn to it. Quiet — that’s a much harder sell. And while I use guise or the setting of the mid-20th century, I think really what I’m trying to write is to the quiet, to the dark side of the moon, if you will — you know, equally there, absolutely there. But getting little attention. And what I’m especially trying to, to make a point of is saying that all of the loud around the border. Well, it’s just loud. The 98% of the rest of people’s lives is this quiet, everyday kind of experience. I was on a panel many years ago with Ursula Le Guin, the great science-fiction writer, and she said something that has always stayed with me. She said, “You know, science fiction,” She said. “It’s, it’s 98% regular, everyday. And 2% on Mars.” And what she was trying to say is the 2% on Mars got all the attention, but it wasn’t accurate to the actual way that we live. And I think in this book, I’m trying to get to the depth of the everyday, which is that 98% of how we actually get through life. And the ’50s happens to be — you know, I was born in the ’50s. That’s when I was growing up. These, the particular adventures, if I can call them that, came from all of the towns that I grew up visiting and spending time in, and that my grandmother and her sisters had been teachers and mercantile workers in these towns. So they were always being talked about and remembered, and they were towns like Rayón and Cucurpe and Ímuris and especially Magdalena, all in the corridor of northern Sonora. And it’s a corridor that’s traditionally been called the Pimería Alta, and it extends from certainly Tucson, you could argue Phoenix — but certainly Tucson all the way to Hermosillo and Guaymas. That corridor, which was a longtime historic trading corridor. That ancientness, that oldness, that old-fashionedness is inherently in the place. And that’s what I’m trying to write to.