Read My Heart Is a Drunken Compass Online

Authors: Domingo Martinez

My Heart Is a Drunken Compass

BOOK: My Heart Is a Drunken Compass
2.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

P
RAISE FOR
T
HE
B
OY
K
INGS OF
T
EXAS

“With
The Boy Kings of Texas
, a new and important truth about those Rio Grande Valley border towns like Brownsville and McAllen has finally emerged, one that takes into account the brainy boys of the barrio who read Cyrano de Bergerac between waiting tables at the Olive Garden, and play hooky at the Holiday Inn in order to discuss foreign films. Sure, there have always been stories about smart kids who want to leave town or risk going nowhere in life. In the Valley, where there is also a high chance of succumbing to border violence, Martinez unveils the lives of smart kids who feel they need to leave town or else simply die of boredom.”

—D
ALLAS
N
EWS


The Boy Kings of Texas
is a spirited confession in the tradition of smart, self-deprecating comedies about young manhood like Robert Graves's
Good-Bye to All That
and early Philip Roth. Martinez weaves artful comic asides with anecdotes about poverty so crushing that it leads to the death of his friends.”

—T
EXAS
O
BSERVER

“This compelling, often heartwarming book explores how Martinez and his family tried to find their place in Brownsville. . . .
The Boy Kings of Texas
alternates between serious, often violent stories, such as the uncle who beats up Martinez in a cocaine-fueled rage, and humorous stories showing his family's softer, loving side. Often, the most moving chapters combine humor with a dark undertone. For example, Martinez writes about how his sisters dealt with their own feelings of inferiority by creating two blonde, Anglo alter-egos.”

—S
AN
A
NTONIO
E
XPRESS
-N
EWS

“There is no easy resolution to this personal journey told through a series of anecdotes that range from hilarious to heartbreaking. Martinez simply splays out the different chapters of his life with a raw honesty that dispels the myth of the big happy Hispanic family and critiques the codes of machismo that lead to reckless choices. An incredibly engaging read and full of colorful characters that keep the writing vibrant. . . .”

—E
L
P
ASO
T
IMES

“Martinez's story is heartrending and uncomfortable, but he maintains a surprising sense of humor that keeps his reader cringing and rooting for him. A starkly honest memoir of growing up on the Texas-Mexican border in the 1970s and '80s, with a wry twist.”

—S
HELF
A
WARENESS

“. . . offers experiences that readers will find informative and emotionally engaging.”

—ALA B
OOKLIST

M
Y
H
EART
I
S A
D
RUNKEN
C
OMPASS

B
Y THE
S
AME
A
UTHOR

The Boy Kings of Texas

M
Y
H
EART
I
S A
D
RUNKEN
C
OMPASS

A Memoir

D
OMINGO
M
ARTINEZ

LYONS PRESS

Guilford, Connecticut

Helena, Montana

An imprint of Rowman & Littlefield

Lyons Press is an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield

Distributed by NATIONAL BOOK NETWORK

Copyright © 2014 by Domingo Martinez

All rights reserved
. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, except as may be expressly permitted in writing from the publisher.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Information available

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data available

ISBN 978-1-4930-0140-8 (hardcover)

The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences—Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

This book is a combination of both memoir and creative nonfiction where the privacy of some of the characters needed protecting. It reflects the author's recollections of his experiences over several years; certain names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed or modified to remain as true to the form as possible while telling the larger story within the approximation of memory. Dialogue has been re-created from memory and, in some cases, has been compressed to convey the substance of what was said or what occurred through what was remembered.

For Sarah, with love everlasting

Even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.

—A
ESCHYLUS
,
A
GAMEMNON

In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself within a dark woods where the straight way was lost.

—D
ANTE
A
LIGHIERI
,
I
NFERNO

C
ONTENTS

Prologue

Part I: Songs of His People

C
HAPTER
1: The Oops! Baby

C
HAPTER
2: Mom Leaves Derek

C
HAPTER
3: Drinking with Dad

C
HAPTER
4: Cain without Abel

C
HAPTER
5: Epiphanies

C
HAPTER
6: Pygmalion, Texas

C
HAPTER
7: Bread Thou Art

C
HAPTER
8: Bread Thou Shalt Remain

C
HAPTER
9: Caramelization

C
HAPTER
10: Toast

Part II: The Unwedded

C
HAPTER
11: It Was Just One of Those Things

C
HAPTER
12: Stephanie of a Thousand Lives

C
HAPTER
13: Cannibal Hymns

C
HAPTER
14: The War of the Rats

C
HAPTER
15: Cleopatra

C
HAPTER
16: Beating Up Lesbians

C
HAPTER
17: The Wrong Side of the Fork

C
HAPTER
18: Showering Blows

C
HAPTER
19: Every Exit an Entrance, Someplace Else

C
HAPTER
20: What the Morning Brings

C
HAPTER
21: Neon Crosses

Part III: Looking Down

C
HAPTER
22: Sarah's Place

C
HAPTER
23: Buying Goblin Fruit

C
HAPTER
24: The Hurricane

C
HAPTER
25: The Third Place

C
HAPTER
26: Now the Wolf

C
HAPTER
27: People Ain't No Good

C
HAPTER
28: Stalling

C
HAPTER
29: Easy Money

C
HAPTER
30: Queen of the Savages

C
HAPTER
31: Northern Exposure

C
HAPTER
32: Roslyn

C
HAPTER
33: Good-bye, Jack County

C
HAPTER
34: The Low Gear

C
HAPTER
35: Dining with Cannibals

C
HAPTER
36: The Way to Say Good-bye

Epilogue

Coda

Acknowledgments

About the Author

P
ROLOGUE
I.

Sarah is holding me by the elbow as I'm trudging slowly to the busier part of my neighborhood, an intersection of Asian-fusion restaurants and the hangover hook-up bar that seems to be in constant operation. She's convinced me to wrap my neck in a scarf, put my coat over my decaying cashmere sweater, which I've been wearing for three days now, and encouraged me to leave my apartment for the first time in five days. I listen to Sarah, and do all this with a sense of catatonic disengagement.

It's the longest I've been away from the hospital. Well, the longest I've been away from the ninth floor at Harborview, where Steph is in a coma, sitting upright with a tiny silver spike sticking out of her forehead, an image of a medical unicorn, the spike measuring her cranial pressure. I've kept guard at her bedside and in the waiting room with her family for over three months now, sometimes defending her even against her family, as an intruder or interloper into their family's pain, because I am no longer Steph's intended, had no connection to her when she'd driven her Jeep over the side of an overpass except for “recent ex-boyfriend.” And yet, I couldn't bring myself to leave her side, couldn't walk away just yet, not like this. But it was tearing me apart to stay.

I'd been in another hospital myself three days earlier, after ripping one of my arms to shreds in a psychotic break at 3:00 a.m., alone in my own bathroom. A combination of Xanax, some SSRI that had kept me awake for four days, and a steady intake of gin—gin to quiet the shouting in my head, gin to thicken my terror to a sludge, gin to drown out the crushing sense of guilt I felt the moment I awoke during those rare times I could actually get about twenty continuous minutes of sleep—gin, which turned the Xanax and the serotonin inhibitors into assassins, and I finally gave up, found an old-fashioned double-sided razor blade and went at my left wrist, working for the one deep cut that would end it, end all of this, in a bathtub, alone in darkest, wettest February, as I sucked down one last Pabst Blue Ribbon for courage, or self-pity.

BOOK: My Heart Is a Drunken Compass
2.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Stigmata by Colin Falconer
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Wishful Thinking by Jemma Harvey
How to Succeed in Murder by Margaret Dumas
Halloween Submission by Bonnie Bliss
The Ghost of Christmas Never by Linda V. Palmer
Two for the Money by Max Allan Collins
The Indestructible Man by Jablonsky, William
Madness In Maggody by Madness in Maggody