Memory Fever

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Ray Gonzalez, who is an active editor and scholar/anthologist working in the area of Chicano studies, has written a series of linked essays in which he recalls some of his most intense experiences with his family, the race-ridden community of El Paso where he grew up, and the haunting power of the desert landscape which has been the source of inspiration for his poetic vision.

The collection MEMORY FEVER is divided into four sections that shift across three decades of Gonzalez’s life, building toward an expression of his deepest beliefs as a man and a poet. The first part of the book skillfully evokes the ethos of the vast desert which is an extension of El Paso del Norte, indicating how the inhabitants of the city settlement are entwined with the timeless realm of the natural world. Gonzalez’s keenly observant descriptions of unusual meetings with and then dreams about snakes and lizards suggest the subconscious connections that exist between species of animals and humans. The section concludes with a visit to the historic Taos Pueblo, where Gonzalez is drawn into a meditation on the simultaneous occurrence of overlapping historical epochs and the necessity for understanding the past as a shaping force. The essay on the White Sands nuclear testing ground augments this position.

Placed at the center of the book, Gonzalez’s essays on the factors in his life which moved him towards a writer’s career (“Without Discovery” and “The...

(The entire section is 440 words.)