Rain of Gold

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Victor Villasenor insists that RAIN OF GOLD is a work of nonfiction. So insistent is the author on this point, in fact, that he reportedly bought back the rights to his book from the original publisher when he determined he could not allow the 550-page work he views as memoir to be marketed as a novel. Never mind that the large New York publishing house had paid Villasenor $75,000 for the rights (presumably repaid to regain the rights). Never mind that the work had been selected as a Book-of-the-Month-Club alternate. Never mind that the book reads for all the world like a novel.

RAIN OF GOLD tells the parallel stories of Lupe and Juan Salvador—the author’s parents—beginning in 1911 when they are children living in separate places in Revolution-torn Mexico, and how it comes to be that their respective families journey north to seek fortune and prosperity in the land of opportunity that is California. These are chatty family stories of Salvador’s days as a maker and seller of bootleg whiskey and these are, of course, tales of good Mexican people’s struggles to overcome the prejudice and exploitation that they face at every turn. Some of the stories here are fantastic—that is, they seem more properly the stuff of fantasy than of family history: A steer is knocked unconscious and skinned for its valuable hide before it is forced to its feet and made to run up the side of a mountain. Perhaps such things happen. In any event, Salvador and Lupe meet...

(The entire section is 402 words.)