Gonzalez has forged a new Chicano manifesto, a cultural memoir that traces both his personal journey and the communal journey that Mexican Americans have traveled throughout this century, across this land. He interweaves lyrical poetry, prose poems, short fiction, and nonfiction commentary into a lush cacophony that traces the evolution of today's politically charged Chicano voices from the deafening silence of their ancestors. Adopting the turtle as a metaphor for the Native American origins of border culture, Gonzalez frames this multitextured individual vision until it becomes a universal portrait of American life: a slow, ancient creature morphing into one of voracious rapidity. In wild and challenging surrealistic images, he hammers out a political statement from language that takes on a special urgency. Walking a fine line between lyricism and polemic, and succeeding where others have stumbled, he calls on Mexican Americans to return to their roots in order to avoid being swept up in American material culture.
Turtle Pictures is a complex body of work by a poet totally in tune with the spirit and nuances of language, imbued with a deep sense of craft and literary tradition. It invites readers to revel in its richness and vitality, to be caught up in its chantlike spirit, to luxuriate in its hauntingly beautiful passages. It is a work to devour, to savor, to return to, for it speaks with all the rhythms of the soul.
Winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Poetry
"Gonzales here enters an abstracted terra incognita, 'inside the canyon of time and disturbed thoughts,' that proves a fruitful hunting ground for the poet, yielding a poetic sequence of temporally layered images drawn from indigenous creation myths. . . . Gonzalez's phantasmagoric bricolage of mythic Native American roots and political Chicano branches is often suggestive and inspiring." —Publishers Weekly
"A language bath in which every word is perfectly chosen and placed. The text is multilayered, and the reader must dive beneath the surface to wring deepest meaning from these sometimes meditative, often surrealistic lyrics." —MultiCultural Review
"An amazing and beautifully written book. The poems work as well on the page as they do being read aloud." —Santa Fe New Mexican