Synopses & Reviews
Lyrical and gritty, this authentic coming-of-age story about a border-town family in Brownsville, Texas,
insightfully illuminates a little-understood corner of America. 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, in a Texas border town in the 1980s. Partly a reflection on the culture of machismo and partly an exploration of the authors boyhood spent in his sisters hand-me-down clothes, this book delves into the enduring, complex bond between Martinez and his deeply flawed but fiercely protective older brother, Daniel. It features a cast of memorable characters, including his gun-hoarding former farmhand, Gramma, and “the Mimis”— 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 provides a 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, this book examines the traumas and pleasures of growing up in South Texas and the often terrible consequences when different cultures collide on the banks of a dying river.
"Opening with the brutal tale of the murder of a beloved pet avenged, Seattle journalist Martinez's memoir of growing up in Texas in the 70s and 80s along the Mexican border is an emotional roller coaster rendered in exquisite detail. Struggling with his cultural identity and the usual kaleidoscope of adolescent emotions, Martinez felt like a perpetual outsider. Even more marginalized by his family's emotional reserve and propensity for violence (physical as well as emotional), he eventually finds solace in substances before moving to Seattle to live with his older brother in hopes of a more peaceful and productive life. But old habits die hard. Once there, Martinez finds himself sucked into an emotional whirlpool once again; the violence he thought he left in Texas follows him, as do his demons. Though written with a strong, clear voice, Martinez goes into often lengthy digressions, frequently losing his momentum and, occasionally, the thread of conversation between writer and reader. Still, this fascinating and sometimes horrifying account of growing up Hispanic in a Texas border town is an artfully rendered take on family, community, and one man's journey to adulthood. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Old-fashioned, high-quality storytelling makes an excerpt from Domingo Martinez's first book, The Boy Kings of Texas, completely captivating. Martinez delivers a lyrical and unblinking account of family life in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. The characters in Martinez's memoir are brutal as often as they are lovable. . . . While it is hard to describe poverty in a lighthearted manner, Martinez chooses humor and wisdom over tragedy in his storytelling." --NewPages.com
“Domingo Martinez writes like an angel—an avenging angel who instead of bringing wrath to a fallen world redeems it by using beautiful prose to turn the most awful and gritty realities into transcendent gems. This is also a significant historical document, a first person account that reveals one corner of America as it has seldom been seen. What a voice, what a story, what a testament to the transforming power of self-knowledge and the right choice of words.”—Carlos Eire, author of Waiting for Snow in Havana,
winner of the National Book Award
“ . . . the narrative brims with candid, palpable emotion . . . Martinez lushly captures the mood of the era and illuminates the struggles of a family hobbled by poverty and a skinny Latino boy becoming a man amid a variety of tough circumstances. A finely detailed, sentimental family scrapbook inscribed with love.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Old-fashioned, high-quality storytelling makes an excerpt from Domingo Martinez's first book, The Boy Kings of Texas, completely captivating. Martinez delivers a lyrical and unblinking account of family life in the border town of Brownsville, Texas. The characters in Martinez's memoir are brutal as often as they are lovable. . . . While it is hard to describe poverty in a lighthearted manner, Martinez chooses humor and wisdom over tragedy in his storytelling."—NewPages.com
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER AND NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST
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.
About the Author
Domingo Martinez has worked as a journalist and designer in Texas and at virtually every periodical in Seattle, including The Stranger, Seattle Weekly, the Seattle Times, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His work has appeared in Epiphany, and he read an adaptation of “The Mimis” on This American Life in October 2012. Mr. Martinez has also contributed to The New Republic and Food & Wine. He is a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee, and still lives in Seattle.