Can one write about illegal immigration as a (literary) writer?
Can the religious conflicts in the world be rendered poetically?
Latin separated me from Walt Disney and Elvis Presley, but it connected me with ancient Rome.
SL: You cover an enormous expanse of material in a single essay.
In one of your previous interviews you commented that you consider fiction to be the constrained genre. RR: I don’t exactly think of fiction as a “constrained genre.” It is more simply that fiction is, for me, less intriguing than non-fiction. And I write always within the unforgiving borders of non-fiction.
I read histories and biographies and memoirs and essays. As a writer I am interested in the ways that the poetic impulse can be utilized in our writing of issues we normally consign to the social sciences and to journalism.
Richard Rodriguez grew up in California, the son of immigrant Mexican parents.
He excelled academically, completed degrees at Stanford University and Columbia University, and was poised to continue in academia when he turned down offers from several prestigious schools, uncomfortable with the possibility that affirmative action gave him an unfair advantage.
For instance the first few pages of your essay “Late Victorians” covers gay pride parades, the relationship between the geography of San Francisco and the different meanings people attach to the city, Victorian architecture in the context of the socio-economic history of San Francisco, and the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.
In the first few pages of your essay “Peter’s Avocado,” you travel from the moralistic underpinnings of vegetarianism, to hate crimes, to American history.