Renaming the Earth
Nowhere does the process of redefinition hit Gonzalez quite as hard as in his native city of El Paso, Texas. There he finds the “segregated little town of my childhood” transformed into “a metropolis of fast Latino zip codes . . . a world where the cell phone, the quick beer, the rented apartment, and the low-paying job say you can be young and happy on the border.” Readers will wonder, along with the author, whether life along the “new border” is worth “the extermination of the old boundaries.”
But there is another side of the Southwest for this “son of the desert”—the world of dusty canyons, ponderosa pines, ocotillo, and mesquite. Here, he writes, “there is a shadow, and it is called ancient home—structures erased from their seed to grow elsewhere, vultured strings searching for a frame that stands atop history and renames the ground.”
Rooted in the desert sand and in the banks of the Rio Grande, the muddy river that forms the border between nations, these essays are by turns lyrical, mournful, warm to the ways of the land, and lukewarm to the ways of man.
“Gonzalez brilliantly and with great passion renames the Earth not only for his benefit, but for ours, as well.” —El Paso Times
“Ray Gonzalez’s Renaming the Earth is a native son’s meditation on the borderlands of the American Southwest.” —Latino Studies