High Country News just ran my review of an innovative memoir, Descanso for My Father, by Harrison Candelaria Fletcher. Fletcher grew up in New Mexico and then lived and worked as a journalist for many years in Denver. His wife is Tina Griego, a former columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post whose articles I’d never miss reading. The family recently moved to Virginia, where Candelaria Fletcher joined the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University. We in Colorado will miss their great writing that captures the spirit and the people of the West, but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from both of them soon.
Candelaria Fletcher works in a form he calls “literary collage.” This technique, of piling images and scenes next to each other, was highly effective for his first memoir. Here’s a bit from my review:
Descanso for My Father: Fragments of a Life
By Harrison Candelaria Fletcher
147 pages, softcover:
University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
When Colorado writer Harrison Candelaria Fletcher was almost 2 years old, his father, a pharmacist, died, leaving behind a wife and five children. His mother, who was 29 years younger than her husband, grew up in a Hispanic farming village on the Rio Grande, ‘a block away from his Route 66 drug store.’ ‘Following the advice of a child psychologist,’ Candelaria Fletcher writes, his mother ‘gradually erased his presence from our Albuquerque home,’ stowing his few remaining belongings in a closet.
Ever since then, Candelaria Fletcher has been searching for the parent he barely knew, using his skills as an investigative journalist to follow his father across the country. Descanso for My Father is the eloquent result of his quest, a collage of essays crafted with precision and grace. Together, they provide a full portrait of his father, Ray, and detail how his loss shaped his son’s life — a life that was marked by the boy’s own struggle to find his place as a pale-skinned biracial child.
Please click through to read the rest: