‘Autobiography of My Hungers’
By Rigoberto Gonzalez
University of Wisconsin Press
Your life is full.
The days are packed with work. Evenings are crammed with home, hobbies and relaxation. Weekends? Well, there’s nothing left of those, between friends and family, travel, shopping and chores.
Yes, your life is full — and yet sometimes you notice a lingering feeling of something missing. In “Autobiography of My Hungers” by Rigoberto González, you’ll see that you’re not the only one with holes in your heart.
When he was a young boy living with his family in Mexico, Rigoberto González remembers that his kitchen job was to separate the piedrita (pebbles) from the beans before his mother put them in the pot. He “enjoyed … the small stones” then. Piedrita followed him into adulthood.
Back then, he was his parents’ oldest child, but he was close to his Abuelo and Abuela. The entire family was poor, but they “were not going to starve, despite what Abuelo had said the week before.” Despite their poverty, his Abuela made sacrifices for him, especially after the family moved El Norte (north, to America). Her gifts were something González didn’t fully understand until many years later.
He did understand loss, however, starting with the loss of his mother, who returned from California to Mexico to die. González was still a child, missing his mother, and that, too, was something he didn’t fully appreciate until he was a man.
Following his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage and subsequent departure, Gonzalez continued to live with his grandparents in a tiny apartment, where all the home’s residents slept in one room. He went to school, but felt out of place, with one foot in Mexico and one in his new country.
He was devastated when his family moved back south, leaving him to finish school in New York alone. Still, college was where he found a girlfriend and came to terms with his “hungry gay body.” It was there that he tried to commit suicide, tried to starve himself, felt unloved and came to terms with memories of embarrassment in childhood and the hurt he held from his abusive, alcoholic father.
And New York, post-college, was where he came to realize that he could fall in love too quickly with a man, but “if the waters got rough, I could always beat him to the exit.”
Looking for a quick little pick-me-up read? You’d be half right with this book.
Yes, “Autobiography of My Hungers” is skinny and, at less than 120 pages (most of them, partially filled), it’ll be a quick book for most to finish.
But short doesn’t necessarily mean lite. Author Gonzalez brings a deep, soul-crushing sadness to the pages which gives the book a gravitas that belies its length.