issue 44: September - October 2004 

 | author bio

Me Macho, You Jane
Dagoberto Gilb

I've been accused of suffering from involuntary macho spasms most of my life. Usually not to my face. Very few got the huevos for that! Okay, maybe a couple of people have mentioned it. Tell you the truth, I don't know what it is they're talking about. To me it's a lot like my astrological sign. Which is Leo. I remember this party a long long time ago. "A Leo, of course he's a Leo, what else would he be?" My sign had pissed these people off. I was pissed off back. What're you gonna do about it? I snorted, my chin up, the muscles in my hands twitching to knot up, feeling light and quick. I don't remember what I'd done or said, if that was it. Was I too wasted? I didn't belong at that party. Too pseudo-hippie for me (real hippies were too stoned to make accusations). Another one I've often heard is that it's Mexican blood. A hot, spicy colorado. Now you see what I'm getting at? That it's usually a complaint about some behavior, or perceived potential for, these people don't approve of. Sort of like when I'm saying I like cockfights. Not as much as certain friends of mine, but I do. I hear the moaning already. People on low-fat, boneless-chicken-is-okay diets. Somehow roosters fighting is a lot worse than football or boxing. But I've sat in stands with all kinds of people, men and women, at all kinds of sporting events, and it's the same screaming noises to me.
      I was raised by my mom. My father lived in the same house as me maybe my first year or two. My first stepfather was when I was thirteen. I was not too fond of this first stepfather. He did not teach me to like manhood. Did my mom teach me to be a macho? She had a mean temper, that's true. And I know I got my temper from her. She was a wild, beautiful woman, though. So I'm telling you the truth, I'm not really sure what being macho is. Except sometimes when I see how some wuss behaves.
      Is it risk taking? Danger? Women who take physical risks, look for danger, aren't they being "macho"? Or the threat of violence. Shooting guns. Killing animals. Or men talking about women. Especially a naked woman, real or imagined.
I've come to this office because I need a machine she has offered me the use of for free. Time and place, from a long time ago to now, from L.A. to El Paso and between or a few miles east or north, I will not specify for reasons of security. Though I barely know her, I sense this woman is interested in me. Twitch twitch. Okay, score that remark as macho evidence for the prosecution. I know I'm right, though (go ahead, score that one, too). But I'm not interested in her, haven't been. In fact, I've avoided her a few times because I don't want the trouble. I'd rather we be friends (score that for the other side?). She's into the local power movement, is playing that sport. I imagine how someday she'll run for public office. A Chicana superstar. I'm thinking this as she's talking to me, all these papers strewn everywhere, paper clips and staplers, dirty telephones with long cords all tangled up, posters and bulletin boards, take-out boxes, coffee cups, beer bottles, ashtrays. I'm listening to her quietly, sitting across from her, not really following a story she's telling me about political capital, those who have what and where and how much, and the arguments each has about accumulating more and positioning for it, the difficulties she has as a woman, an attractive woman, elbowing her way in. She is a nice-looking woman, too. At certain angles, she's unquestionably sexy. She's got a husky laugh because she's large-boned, maybe on the heavy side. She's tough, as fearless and aggressive about her opinions as her desires. Her appetite for fun is as big and loud as she is. Big breasts, too. Which all adds up to say that she's not the type I've usually known in a biblical respect. Which is what I'm considering as I'm paying the most superficial attention to what she's saying. Why not? is what I'm thinking. Maybe we get drunk, laugh, maybe we ought to take off our clothes in the dark. For the sake of acting bad, to play, not be romantic. Suddenly she says something that startles me into the flow of her monologue: "… doesn't like a woman, a tough bitch like me, onstage getting attention. He's so macho. Like you." She's talking about this politico I don't know personally but can't not know of because he's always news. I ask for an explanation. "You know what I mean," she says. No, I don't. I don't at all. I've never run for any political position. I've never been or even wanted to be anybody's boss. "Yours isn't bad like his," she explains, laughing. Flirting. I don't know her well, so how come she decides she knows me, knows my "good" or "bad" machismo? In the past I've been nothing less than a gentleman in all respects, and even now, haven't I been sitting there quietly, practically without moving, waiting, listening politely to her about this pedo I could care less about so I can use a machine? I have said or done absolutely zero that would give her any knowledge of who I am or how I behave. Ni una cosa, nothing.

I worked this four-story in Newport Beach, California, a building so close to Pacific Ocean salt water that it pushed against a parking structure sheerwall like an aquarium, above which was a view of uncountable masts of million-dollar yachts and catamarans lining the curving bay's piers. All the other carpenters were Anglo. I'd become the Chicano from Texas. From no less than mythical El Paso: the Rio Grande, adobes, Rosa's Cantina, Tony Lama cowboy boots, Juárez whorehouses. I wasn't just me, in other words. I was an embodiment. I was as wild as the West Texas wind because I was living in a motel room and I didn't want to continue to work for the company once this job ended. I was even planning to leave sooner than that. Once I'd earned enough, I was outta there, thanks, hasta la próxima, and laters. The boys knew this about me because I was still there, the only one still around who'd come out of the union hall. The superintendent called men from the hall when some walls had to be formed up in a hurry for a large cement pour, then a week later, almost two, they were down the road. But he liked my work, and leaving me on was like a long-term employment offer. He kept company men busy all over L.A. and Orange counties. These were guys who talked about which company jobs they'd been at, how many years. It seemed like a good outfit, too, but as complimented as I was, I was there for the money to be made on this job site alone.
      I told guys I lived in Texas because I didn't want to live on California freeways and in stucco tract houses. That I had plans to go my own way. I mentioned side jobs I got in El Paso and implied that eventually they would lead to something, or, if not, I just didn't care. No, I did not mention my writing. It wasn't like I had to hide it, since it was not a topic that ever popped up. I didn't and wouldn't want it to anyway, and wouldn't have blinked if it had. With over ten years in the trade at the time, I was a carpenter both to myself and to everyone I worked with, nothing more, nothing less. It's how I wanted it, too. What I inwardly prized about construction (most of the time) was you were judged not by your talk but what you did, on time, right. What I liked about construction was that at the end of the day, when you were joint- and bone-sore, when your feet throbbed, when you required cold beer to numb the pain, you knew you were tired from really working. You rubbed the yellowed calluses, hard as fingernails on the index finger and thumb of your hammer hand, picked at feathery splinters in your palms that seemed to grow hormonally like body hair, wiped away dribbling tie-wire cuts you discovered where you hadn't felt them happen. What I liked was that at the end of the day, you felt like a man, and at the end of the week, you got your check, and at the end of a job, you knew you earned your money.
      Now I'm ready to tell you about The Asshole. The caps are important in my opinion, descriptive of his transcendent dimension. He's a kid. Looks seventeen, though maybe nineteen. Probably twenty-one, since he could buy beer. He's pudgy, a soft though unblubbery fat cushioning his belly and wrapping his arms, where there ought to be at least a little muscle tone (we're talking about men in the building trades, you know?). He's a third- or fourth-period apprentice carpenter, meaning in his second year of four. He rides what sounds like an uncorked Yamaha. He's got on a black helmet, with a black-tinted visor, and a black leather jacket. He thinks he is all things bad, and in the morning, he struts into work with the attitude. He's a biker. He's a champion football player. He's a sex machine. He's a lots-of-lines doper—meth and coke, but he's done 'em all and can anytime—and he gulps white lightning. He's a musician and an asskicker and a killer if he has to be. His dog is a Doberman, and he's saving for a Harley. He carries a buck knife, owns a Luger, wants a Magnum.
      He doesn't have a toolbox in the lockup, just a hard hat and bags—hammer, tape, trisquare, pencil (often no pencil)—and so one of the first specifically irritating things about him is that he asks to borrow tools the company doesn't supply but that any carpenter is supposed to carry. A crescent wrench, a cat's paw, a flat bar, a level, a chisel, screwdrivers, handsaws. At first the loans were made, like they would have been to anyone who asked. When he didn't give a tool back for days, once he was asked, usually it hadn't been lost yet. Usually, though a few times already. Tools getting lost on a job is nothing new, and it's part of the expense. But nobody likes a guy who borrows his shit, and nobody likes anyone who loses his tools. That was just one particular reason the carpenters on the job shook their heads about him.
      Mine was different, though. I already couldn't stand him after the first break time I sat down, new on the crew, and he opened his mouth. It wasn't just the boot-high bullshit. It was the whiny, lazy, slow, dumb, loutish American audacity of it. The seeming privilege of it. I didn't like him because he was a punk, and what made my dislike unique was that I was up-front about it. I said so to anyone and most of all to him. Right in his face. "Go away. Go. Away. I do not want you to work anywhere near me. Good-bye." Guys would find this hysterical. The first times he smiled like I was kidding, even though it was clear to anyone with a two-digit IQ I was not, and he bobbed between staying and leaving. The superintendent told him to help here, he whimpered. "I don't care. You do not work here. You work over there, you find anything else to do somewhere else. Away from me. Leave." If he wavered, I was unhesitant. "Now!" I'd yell, to make my meaning less complex.
      I had tried to work with him a few times. He was one of those who'd stand there forever if you didn't suggest he do something, watching you do everything, all alone, like that was his job description. Okay, I was a journeyman, he was an apprentice, so I'd only shake my head: I'd suggest he lift up the end of this 4 x 6—but that was too heavy for him because it was too wet, or cement-logged, or he'd been out too late, or he hadn't worked out last week. Measure that—he'd stare at the tape, and stare, then give a few numbers, remeasure, and it'd be wrong. I'd even gotten real simple and asked him to get nails, or plywood—that was what laborers did! Or he'd be gone so long I could've forged or glued my own. If he didn't forget, if he came back. He was enthusiastic only when the lunch wagon blew its horn, though he also had bad taste in food. Old wrinkled hot dogs on stale yet wet buns, packaged burritos, Twinkies. He savored these like a gourmet. Quitting time was the only part of the day he was quick. No, I could not understand why he was on the payroll at all. I told him so. And I told him he should learn to take a shower, with soap, and to use deodorant, and to brush his teeth, and to wash his stinking underwear and socks and probably the rest of his clothes once in a while, told him he should hang baking soda from his neck. I was dead serious.
      The more insulting I got, the more he began to admire me. Yes, you read that correctly. I'd never heard of such a thing, either, and certainly had never experienced anything so twisted. Would this be unwanted, obsessive macho bonding? I was wild, hooting Texas. I was outlaw Mexican El Paso. To extinguish the chance of having to sit with him at break or lunch, I'd go over with the laborers, all mejicanos, who usually sat a distance away from the English-speaking carpenters. Once or twice I caught him peering at me with the metaphorical equivalent of his mouth wide open, tongue limp on his lower lip (I'd move so my back was to him). I was so exotic! Oh how could he become exotic like me? I was a Doberman with Great Dane size, or a custom Harley. He did finally come to understand that I was serious about not wanting him near me, not even within my sight. But he came around anyway, like I was an irresistible force, and I'd have to sling more contempt. You wouldn't believe the words I used to send him off. And he'd say and do nothing. He'd disappear, maybe a day or two, maybe come back hours later to talk to another guy, until he thought, I guess, I'd forgotten or forgiven, and then I'd hurl more paeans of loathing. Did the power of them, their threat and fearsomeness and bravado, sting his wimpy psyche until it was testosterone-numb with envy and fascination?
      It was like some warped Beauty and the Beast tale. Disgusting. Pathetic. Bizarre. I was not seeking any happy ending. Did I hate the dude? No. I just wanted him to go away, to not be anywhere near me. About his existence I felt an active indifference. That once I was gone, I wouldn't care what his future held, good or bad, and wouldn't care to know. I'd be grateful never to be around the weirdo asshole again, grateful I wouldn't have to be.
      When that last day came, I'd already said good-bye to the crew, was about to step off the dust and dirt and paraphernalia of the job site, my hard hat on backward, my tool bags looped over one shoulder, the other shoulder sagging from the weight of my toolbox, when he struts up. And I can tell he's wanting to act like a man. Like one out of a World War II movie or something.
      "You're a real good carpenter," he says with a respect verging on I don't want to know. And then he puts out his too-plump, too-soft hand for a handshake.

Graduate seminar, Tucson, Arizona, fall 1992. The subject was books of fiction. I sat at the head of the tables—six tables shoved together to make one in a nondescript room in the halls of the English department. The color of the room was manila, as in folders. It was a one-semester appointment in the creative writing program. I'd assigned a few writers I valued—John Fante, Langston Hughes, Juan Rulfo, Naguib Mahfouz, Cormac McCarthy. An initial list also included Paul Bowles, and I was considering Hubert Selby, Jr. Note the shortage of female names. And I was taking over an established, and preenrolled, seminar from a professor whose course title was "Women Writers and the World of Their Invention." I hadn't been told this small detail when I accepted the employment, and when she sent me her course description, I knew very quickly I was the wrong construction worker for the duty. I had to think and act fast to order books I knew, and I did consider retitling the course "Men and Their Books." With Selby as a possible (my sincere hesitation was that a movie had been made; I was interested in the linkage of style and story, and movies cheat close reading), all I'd have to do is add Charles Bukowski and the tanks would be gased. So I didn't. I wasn't there yet, and they didn't know me, and I was afraid nobody would laugh. I did have three other books on the list. Ones by Pat Little Dog (Pat Ellis Taylor), J. California Cooper, and Leslie Marmon Silko. Who are women. Since people didn't recognize but one of them, they thought they too were men names and men books.
      When I arrived, there was much less laughter than I could've imagined. Upset students, nervous faculty. A sexual-harassment charge draped everyone like a trench coat, and, I was to learn, hiring me, a male and a man like I was, was met with such disapproval it was as though all I wore was a trench coat. I was asked to add more books by women, so I added two, an anthology of stories about and by bad girls, and a novel by Jean Rhys. I'd already decided to pass on Selby, and I dropped Bowles. It wasn't as if doing this troubled me in the slightest. I wanted to joke and say how I really really liked women. How I'd teach any they wanted me to, and I'd read them, too! But I left my sense of humor out of it. My physical presence did not seem to inspire too much confidence, either. After my first meeting with those in charge, eyes stumbling around like the words were, after I said I had absolutely no discomfort adding and subtracting books for this course, that I even sincerely agreed with the student complaints (they enrolled for a course for and about woman, and this large and loud guy shows up), after that, standing in the busy hall with my first-day escort, I just couldn't hold back one bromita, one small crack. "Where's the men's room? They do allow them here still, don't they?" I thought it was a little funny. My escort pointed, unsure, without smiling.
      I sat at the head of the tables, a couple of months in. One student in the class was the program's most bitter—unhappy with the state of Arizona (she was from the East), unhappy with the department's MFA program (evidence: my visiting, substitute presence), unhappy specifically with several professors (her unconventional thesis not being received enthusiastically). Since there was much grumbling going on with many students, I didn't know whether this was simply a common by-product of all writing programs, or all graduate schools, or not. I'd read none of her creative work, but she was bright, and most of all she was hardworking, a trait that went a long way with me.
      The book assigned that week was by Rick DeMarinis, a writer whose work I admire as much as I like him. An extremely rare combination. Though DeMarinis is highly regarded among fiction writers, I teased the students, warning them that he lived in El Paso and was my friend. The book, The Burning Women of Far Cry, is a comic coming-of-age novel set in Montana. The women are smart and sexually wild and they drink, the men scam and pine for women and drink.
      Usually this student was quiet and needed prodding to speak. This evening she opened the seminar. She picked up DeMarinis's novel by a corner and held it in the air. Picked up the novel like it wasn't a book, with a thumb and finger, at the farthest corner. Like it was soiled. Smelled. Like her fingers would be smeared by it. Holding the very least of it possible. She turned her eyes away like it didn't deserve their contact. Picked up the novel, eyes averted, held her arm out toward the center of the tables, dropped it, and said, "I can't believe we're expected to read a book like this in a graduate-level seminar." Her tone was contemptuous, defiant, fearlessly in the right.
      Her complaint? The portrayal of women. Especially the excessive depiction of their glorious breasts.
      To be honest, I hadn't especially noticed the breasts in the novel. And I'd still say that they do not dominate any character description, are not part of even a motif. What interested me in the story was the broken family, the stepfathers, the jobs. What consumed me was the commanding, simple beauty of DeMarinis's prose. Yet the student seemed to have a good, quality argument. I could see how tasteless, how male-fetished the subject might be. So if talking about women's breasts is an inappropriate fixation, how much should be attributed to the writer's character and how much to the character's? Is it breasts in general? I'd have to confess that I like women's breasts. I keep this mostly to myself but is it wrong to admit it openly? When I hear guys talk about them (about tits, to put it bluntly) with other guys, I think so. Is that generalizing? I don't like all women's breasts, or only breasts, not even mainly, just as I don't like all women. Or is it size? Criticize the consistent description of size? When we criticize, do we criticize the writer for willful obsession, or for what is written unaware? Which are his character's flaws, which are his, and how ought they be controlled or not? All of these, and many angles I'm sure I haven't thought of, all of these great topics for discussion in a graduate creative-writing seminar.
      I say that now. Because when the book plopped on the table, as the room went silent, so did I. I lost sentence consciousness. There was, indeed, only one word left in me, yet inchoate, spiritually forming, physically germinating: kill.
      As there are differences between men and women, there are differences between men and men. They are bulk and muscle, and they begin to be sensed at an early age. Eventually one boy will recognize another's, and we get in fights to test boundaries. As young men, we act more or less on bulking and muscling, or not, to a level of satisfaction and resignation. We learn who we are going to be physically smaller than. We accept the larger and smaller distinctions among us. In a dispute with another man, we silently scale each other. At the construction sites where I've so far spent most of my adult work hours, which is where lots of those guys go after high school, arguments are too often not subtle. When there's verbal screaming, a real nonverbal howl kicks. Whereas in a world of ideas, at universities, words are king. Arguments are supposed to be bulky and muscular, not the person advancing them. Even ad hominem attacks are too physical in nature. It is the very condition that I love about a university environment. It is a paradise where brutishness is the bottom, where civility and manners are high tools of learning.
      No guy would have dared to do what that student did. Unless he thought he could kick my ass. When male students look me in the eye, and I look back, we've opened a discussion. We have either decided mutually to accept the rules of the idea world, or we have scaled. And we have scaled. Because we always scale each other, no matter what. There is no other possibility. He would never have spoken to me thus without being afraid or being ready. But this didn't even occur to the student. She felt right, plain and simple, and self-righteous outrage and behavior never led to anyone smacking her in the fucking face, which parallel activity on a construction site would lead to almost assuredly. Men don't hit women. The rudeness of dropping the book, my friend's book, a book I assigned for a course with only good intentions, that insult to me, at me—a male student would have known the wordless realm he tossed it into.
      So what did I do? Nothing. We had none of the potential conversations I spoke of above. I think I tried to maintain some professorial decorum. I don't remember if I achieved any. I have no memory of what anyone else said. Stunted conversations, or was that my attention? I do remember telling myself that I was being paid. This was a mental game I learned from miserable construction jobs. I dismissed the class very early. I remember my rage and disgust, seeing around a hot desert light glaring in my eyes as the sun was setting. I remember it as my last class, even though I sat at the head of those tables a few more times.

Several years earlier, I'd taken up coaching because I couldn't stand it anymore. Coaches were either overpraising baby-sitters or Nazis. I picked up a seven-to-eight-year-old team that included my youngest boy, but I was too late to get an eleven-to-twelve group. Meaning my oldest son, Tony, had to find a team, and quick. Which turned out to be one coached by a man I knew because I'd coached his son several times. I will tell you this honestly. His son was not so good an athlete. To put it more ungenerously, he sucked. He was a kind boy with a good and gentle heart who didn't like sports. He may not have been able to say so in words, but his body wrote clear sentences. It was his dad who wanted sports for him.
      There were a few reasons I didn't like this coach very much. Most had to do with his being an overbearing Christian. A new Christian. One of those who didn't understand that someone else could have a belief that was as well considered as his. If he wasn't loud, which he was sometimes, his sanctimonious moralism was always screaming. He'd been a foster parent, and now his job, an admirable one, too, was as a houseparent for a larger group of boys at a home. He thought they should behave like they were sixty-year-old men grateful for any conversation. Line up politely and be quiet. Listen to him. Listen when he's talking! It was like school, day and night, and the main lesson was that lessons were to be learned. No time for art or music or any parallel waste of time. Almost all the boys were Chicanos. They spoke Spanish, and their English was strongly accented, often broken. He didn't like that. Not at all. He'd shake his head. What is it you're trying to say? he'd snap, intolerant, as if stupidity were an accent or a mispronounced word. He didn't think there was anything valuable enough about Mexican culture that wasn't already better in the U.S.A.
      His son was to be their example. In all things. I'd coached lots of these boys, just as I had his son. I liked his son, and I liked the boys. And the boys, including his, liked me and our teams because we had fun when we played and we mostly won, and if we lost, no big deal. All of which was why this man didn't like me. He didn't say so. It was a sense I had is all. An instinct. I was inferior, he was sure of it. Something about me. And so, I swore he didn't think these boys ought to like me. I swore he took up coaching because he didn't want someone like me, and my influence, around his boys and his lessons. He didn't want to let it be said that I was a better coach.
      These were my oldest son's peak years for basketball, and he had quickly become the star of the team, unquestionably the best player. I loved that. I was proud of my Toño. I loved it for him, and I loved him for it, and I loved it because I didn't like the coach. Underneath, I felt I was a better dad and coach and man because my son played basketball better than his. I was proud in larger ways, too. Because of how the coach thought, because my son was a Chicano.
      They were winning this game quickly. When Tony got the ball, he scored. It wasn't like he was hogging it, wasn't like he was trying to hot-dog. That was never his style. When he got the ball, he tried to get it to others, but they wouldn't shoot it, or they missed, or they sent it back to him. He shot and usually made it. The other kids didn't mind. They liked the winning part a lot.
      And they were winning easy, and big, when the coach shouted. For several games previous, he'd been yapping at his son for not taking charge, for not shooting, not rebounding, for standing around doing nothing. He was mad on that deeper level, too, as disappointed as I was proud. Then I heard him go after Tony. It was about not putting it up so much, about having the ball too much. The coach was wrong. In principle, as an idea, he was right, but not in this circumstance. It definitely wouldn't have been true if it were his son, is what I'd say. His logic and principles and understanding would have altered then. There was a kid like Tony on everybody's team, and most boys were closer to his son. But in truth, it wasn't about either boy. No, I'd say. It was about me. It was about me and him. That's what I'd say.
      It was when the coach barked at Tony again, told him he had to sit down, that I leaped out of my chair across the court. Something uncontrollable gripped me. Stronger than anger. Pride. Respect. Fairness. Not that I was working around those concepts clearly. "Motherfucker, you leave him alone!"
      My hot voice echoed off the hardwood floors and high ceiling of the gym, bounced louder and more rude off east and west walls—a proverbial echo, unobstructed, magnified by cool, whispering autumn air. I couldn't believe it had come out of me, since moments before, I'd been sitting there, watching little kids playing ball in a game I sincerely didn't find slightly important. Tony didn't, either. He didn't even care that he was being yelled at.
      The coach glared at me, appalled. Worse yet, I caught something else, too. An I-told-you-so smirk. Now he had confirmed that I was from the crass, violent, low-class, vulgar, gang-ridden, unfit-to-lead culture he so clearly wasn't. I'd justified him and his self-righteous fundamentalism. But I was shamed equally about being an American, the ugliest kind. Abuelitas, sitting gracious and gentle near me, with Sunday shawls over their shoulders, watching their sweet nietecitos playing and being nothing but young and sweet, leaned forward, stunned, disgusted, as if I'd hocked one onto the foot of the Virgin de Guadalupe. Two little girls got off their seats to step out onto the court and look at the face of the goon. Their innocent mouths were open, and even their eyes wanted to keep their distance. If I could've left, I would have. It was that I was in a corner and the door was at the other end, and I couldn't.

Spasms. Twitches. Juice. Blood. Alignment of moon and stars and sun and planets. Hormones. Sex or violence. Meat. Or manners. Nobility or a lack of. What you're embarrassed about, what you're proud of.
      Here's a list: I like women. I like women better than men. I think some people deserve to get their asses kicked. I don't go to bullfights. Well, I've been to a couple, but only because they're in Juárez and it's something to do. My current drink is tequila and grapefruit juice, or vodka and tonic with two squeezes of lemon. I don't drink beer very often, and I love baseball and basketball and don't care for football much. You don't like that, screw you. I love my family. I love walking the streets, or up a mountain, or a desert trail, alone. I eat beef. And serrano chiles.

© Dagoberto Gilb

This electronic version of  "Me Macho, You Jane" appears in The Barcelona Review with kind permission of the author. It appears in the author´s collection Gritos, Grove Press / New York, 2003. Book ordering available through amazon.comamazon.co.uk

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author bio Dagoberto Gilb
Dagoberto Gilb is the author of Gritos, Woodcuts of Women, The Magic of Blood, and The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The Best American Essays, and as commentaries on NPR's Fresh Air. Gritos, from which "Me Macho, You Jane" is taken, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism.


issue 44: September - October 2004  

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