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The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir by Domingo…

The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir (edition 2012)

by Domingo Martinez

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Title:The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir
Authors:Domingo Martinez
Info:Lyons Press (2012), Paperback, 456 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir by Domingo Martinez


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I picked this book up in the San Jose airport a couple of weeks ago. It was good enough that I finished half of it on the plane. Took me a little while to finish the rest of it because I snuck Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson in, and I had a ton of homework to do. But I stayed up late last night and finished it.

The book was nominated for the National Book Award. That's not what made me pick it up though. I've been reading and thinking a lot about social justice. And since I happen to live in Texas where the Hispanic/Latino population continues to grow at a rapid pace, I thought a memoir about growing up poor and Hispanic in Brownsville would make for an interesting read. It did. Not an easy one, though Martinez is funny, and a great storyteller, because his story is tough. Lots of abuse. Completely dysfunctional family. Love and hurt coexist in Martinez's family in the same way they do for many people. Sometimes it's good to just know you're not alone in your feelings, so you put your story out there. I feel like that's what Martinez has done. Writing the book seems like it might have been therapeutic for him. And I'm sure it has resonated with a lot of readers.

Good book. Worth picking up if you like memoirs. ( )
  jennyo | Sep 25, 2015 |
Domingo Martinez grew up in Brownsville, Texas as part of an extended, dysfunctional Mexican-American family. In this engaging memoir he tells what it was like to have a “boy-tyrant” for a father and a grandmother he believed was the devil. She took life insurance policies out on all the young men in the family – and collected often enough that each time “was like winning the lottery again.”

As an adult Martinez moved to Seattle to “follow the rain” which reminded him of some of the best times of his “seasonally deficient” youth on the border, which featured one season – hot. Martinez knew early he wanted to leave Brownsville before he fell into the trap most young men did: “The boys never left home; they just brought their illegitimate children and unhappy wives along for the only ride they knew, the one that headed nowhere.”

Martinez tells of his later problems with addiction and alcohol and how his family life contributed. This is a witty, compelling memoir that doesn’t shy away from deep emotion and even embarrassing moments. ( )
  Hagelstein | Aug 1, 2015 |
An inside look at life in the barrio in a border town in Texas. The author notes in a number of sections of the book he sees a therapist. After reading about his life growing up it is amazing he doesn't spend everyday in therapy. Throughout the story the author is somehow able to keep a sense of humor as he describes his stewed up extensive family, what is considered normal for him is nearly impossible to believe. This was a great story, of an amazing man. ( )
  zmagic69 | Jul 19, 2014 |
From the barrio of south Texas to Seattle you will experience the roller coaster life of Mr. Martinez through fights, drinking, dysfunctional family gatherings to unworkable love affairs. There is a father with very few redeemable qualities, a conniving and manipulative grandmother, a brother who is always fighting for the family name and the safe harbor of a mother who helps Domingo try to navigate through this minefield of experiences. This book would make Ozzie and Harriet Nelson squirm with tension. I can certainly see why the National Book Awards named it a finalist and it is a book you will be talking about with your friends. The book is well written and will certainly haunt after you put it down. ( )
  muddyboy | Apr 30, 2013 |
A finalist for the National Book Award in 2012, The Boy Kings of Texas is a memoir of Martinez's childhood in a rural barrio outside of Brownsville, Texas and his escape to Seattle, Washington as he tries to transition into adulthood. Martinez captures moments of his life in rich and vivid detail. He has an incredibly dysfunctional relationship with his father, who he refers to as a reverse compass, and often struggles to find his place amidst the violence of barrio life. But he tells his story with a light touch, finding humor in difficult moments. While Martinez's skill as a writer shone through in his descriptions of the moments of his life, for me, the story never came together to create a coherent whole. Martinez jumps around a bit, and even as he escapes Texas for a life in Brownsville, it feels as if the same moments repeat again and again. It is not until the last couple of chapters that we get a sense of how the moments have shaped the man. ( )
  porch_reader | Apr 6, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0762779195, Paperback)


A lyrical and authentic book that recounts the story of a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas in the 1980's, as each member of the family desperately tries to assimilate and escape life on the border to become "real" Americans, even at the expense of their shared family history. This is really un-mined territory in the memoir genre that gives in-depth insight into a previously unexplored corner of America.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:47 -0400)

"Domingo Martinez lays bare his interior and exterior worlds as he struggles to make sense of the violent and the ugly, along with the beautiful and the loving. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the author's boyhood spent in his sister's hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring and complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed, but fiercely protective older brother. It features a cast of memorable characters, including his gun-hoarding, former farmhand Gramma and "The Mimi's," two of his older sisters who for a short, glorious time, manage to transform themselves from poor Latina adolescents into upper-class white girls. Martinez delves into the complicated relationships between extended family and the inner conflicts that result when the desire to Americanize clashes with the inherent need to defend one's manhood in an aggressive, archaic patriarchal farming culture. He provides a real glimpse into a society where children are traded like commerce, physical altercations routinely solve problems, drugs are rampant, sex is often crude, and people depend on the family witch doctor for advice. Charming, painful, and enlightening, it examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas, and the often terrible consequences when two very different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river"-- "A lyrical and authentic book that recounts the story of a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas in the 1980's, as each member of the family desperately tries to assimilate and escape life on the border to become "real" Americans, even at the expense of their shared family history. This is really un-mined territory in the memoir genre that gives in-depth insight into a previously unexplored corner of America"--… (more)

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