My Father Called Us Monkeys: Growing Up Mexican American in the Heartland | Mario Duarte | 9781948509527 | $20 | 128p | Trade paper | Foreword by Chuy Renteria | Coming in 2024 | Pre-order early and get a signed copy
Inspired by real-life My Father Called Us Monkeys is a series of linked short stories about Marco, a Mexican American boy coming of age in a blue-collar and predominately white Midwestern town in 1969. His family consists of an older father, a railroad mechanic who often unabashedly calls his children monkeys; a devoted mother who works in a toy factory; a strong-willed, competitive younger sister; an older, maternal sister about to graduate from high school; and Marco, an inquisitive boy who grapples to understand the adult world. In this collection, there are stories about friendships and living with white neighbors, school days, and interactions and conflicts with extended family. Some of the stories are informed by the Vietnam War, the Apollo Space Program, and the Civil Rights Movement.
“Mario Duarte juxtaposes innocent voices against tragic and tender moments while giving us a moving snapshot of a young Mexican American boy growing up in the Midwest. Duarte’s eye for scenic landscape and his ear for captivating dialogue stand out in this debut short story collection.”—Jose B. Gonzalez, author of Toys Made of Rock and When Love Was Reels
“Duarte’s unique book of stories is an artistic testimonio that brings Marco’s family, stories, and history to life in lyrical and moving language. These compelling stories are a wonder to read.”—Fred Arroyo, author of Sown in Earth: Essays of Memory and Belonging
“Mario Duarte opens the door to a Mexican American family living in the Midwest in My Father Called Us Monkeys. Duarte has created a series of connected short stories that explore the wonders of childhood and the joys and complexities of growing up. The stories focus on Marco as he climbs trees, witnesses his friend’s broken home, and adjusts to the vagaries of life. Duarte is a master of description. As we enter this world filled with rumbling cicadas, the laughter of children at the circus, and a never-ending search for rabbits, the family’s complex history as Mexican-Americans comes to light. This is a book to read slowly and enjoy.”—Dr. Adela Najarro, President of Círculo de poetas and Writers
Mario Duarte is a Mexican American poet and fiction writer whose family has lived in the Midwest for over a century. He grew up in Western Illinois and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of New Hampshire. He lives in Iowa City. His poems and short stories have appeared in American Poetry Review, Arkana, Digging Through the Fat, Emerald City, Ocotillo Review, Pank, Rigorous, Write Launch, and other magazines. His micro-poetry collection To the Death of the Author was published by La Resistencia Press.