Veronica Gonzalez Peña
Veronica Gonzalez is the coeditor of Juncture: 25 Very Good Stories and 12 Excellent Drawings and the founder of rockypoint Press, a series of artist-writer collaborations produced in association with 1301PE Gallery. twin time, her first novel, won her the 2007 Premio Aztlán Literary Prize.
So Far From God
When we got to Michoacan I called my sister. She knows Mexico well and told us we had to see Morelia, a 17th century Spanish mining town with a spectacular colonial plaza. [...] We walked the narrow streets of the ancient town and there we found an old convent which housed a restaurant in which we had an amazing meal of squash flower soup and fish in a delicate pumpkin seed sauce. Slowly we returned to the zocalo where we strolled and watched people making all manner of use of that central square, holding hands or arguing, kissing in corners or ambling, our kids joining all the small children joyfully playing, and chasing and screaming and running in that plaza.
Three years later, on Independence Day, September 15th, 2008, a grenade was tossed into the central square in Morelia, the very place Michele and I had sat in with our children just a few years before. It was then that everyone knew things had turned. Everything had shifted. This was not an internecine narco battle confined to the players of the warring factions. This was a violence upon the very fabric of Mexican life, it’s very active public life.
twin time: or, how death befell me
… as I poured my father’s ashes into a big Ziploc bag, a little of my blood dripped in. I thought about how each cell has all of you fully inscribed in it, so that if I left those drops in there, it would be as if I were already dead too. I plunged in then, to try and get myself out, but it was all so sticky that I had to give up; when I pulled out my hand, parts of my father were stuck all over it …
—from twin time
Poetic, sensuous and witty, Veronica Gonzalez’s debut novel unfolds like a fairy tale spanning the dusty hills of Los Angeles and the glittering nightlife of Mexico City.Raised in northeast LA by her widowed immigrant father, a baker, Mona has grown up believing her mother died minutes after her birth, and her twin brother was simply given away. Stifled by unnamable doubts as a child, when her father dies, Mona sets off on a quest to discover her long-lost twin brother.
The Sad Passions
Told by six women in one family, Veronica Gonzalez Pena’s The Sad Passions captures the alertness, beauty, and terror of childhood lived in proximity to madness. Set against the backdrop of a colonial past, spanning three generations, and shuttling from Mexico City to Oaxaca to the North Fork of Long Island to Veracruz, The Sad Passions is the lyrical story of a middle-class Mexican family torn apart by the undiagnosed mental illness of Claudia, a lost child of the 1960s and the mother of four little girls.
It is 1960, and the wild and impulsive sixteen-year-old Claudia elopes from her comfortable family home in Mexico City with Miguel, a seductive drifter who will remain her wandering husband for the next twenty years. Hitchhiking across the United States with Miguel, sometimes spending the night in jails, Claudia stops sleeping and begins seeing visions. Abandoned at a small clinic in Texas, she receives electroshock treatment while seven months pregnant with her first daughter. Afterward, Miguel leaves her, dumb and drooling, at her mother’s doorstep.