In this moving and funny memoir, award-winning playwright Guillermo Reyes untangles his life as the secretly illegitimate son of a Chilean immigrant to the United States and as a young man struggling with sexual repression, body image, and gay identity. But this is a double-decker memoir that also tells the poignant, bittersweet, and adventurous story of Guillermo’s mother, María, who supports herself and her son cleaning houses and then working as a nanny in Washington, D.C. and eventually in Hollywood.
In one memorable scene, after realizing that her friend Carmen is cleaning the house of one of the producers of Annie Hall, María recruits her to take her picture as she poses dramatically with Mr. Joffe’s Oscar in hand. It is María’s defiant yet determined attitude amidst her sacrifices that allows for Guillermo’s spirited coming of age and coming out.
Their common ground is the drama of their encounters with discovery, heartbreak, and passion—the explosive emotions that light up the stage of their two-actor theater. Honorable Mention, Best Auto/Biography in English, International Latino Book Awards
About the Author
Guillermo Reyes is associate professor of theater and head of the playwriting program at Arizona State University. He is the author of Men on the Verge of a His-panic Breakdown and other plays.
“Guillermo Reyes’ memoir is an endearing story of ‘one mother and one son’—a pair of Chilean outsiders navigating the world together but looking at the landscape through diverging lenses.”—Rigoberto Gonzalez, author of Butterfly Boy
“Candor, great wit, and humor.”—Horacio N. Roque Ramirez, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Reyes had an atypical Latino immigrant experience that provides ample material for this entertaining and stirring memoir. He bares his soul—readers may occasionally feel they are Reyes's psychiatrist—as he tells his story of growing up in Chile, fatherless but with his father's name, and of his journey to Los Angeles, all the while coping with sexuality and body issues. But more than his own coming-of-age, this is the story of his mother, Maria, and her struggles, at times unconventionally approached, to provide a better life for her son. Reyes's recountings of his mother's and her family's adventures are the glue that holds this story together while he writes of shaping his own identity and finding his voice as a writer."—Library Journal
“Reyes, an accomplished playwright and theater professor, bares his soul with searing candor in this graceful memoir about growing up as a Chilean immigrant in America. . . .The author's honesty about coming to terms with his fears is expressed with a compelling combination of poignant honesty and rueful wit, a tone that infuses this spirited life story.”—Richard Labonte, Book Marks
“Reyes introduces readers to Chilean culture and history, the power of anxiety disorder, and the feelings of marginalization that accompany status as an immigrant and a gay man. . . .Madre & I is more than a coming-of-age story; it is a testament to coming to terms with the myriad labels placed on Reyes and moving beyond them to define who he is as a singular individual.”—ForeWord
“Guillermo Reyes’ smart, gentle memoir, Madre and I, deftly braids together the story of the author’s mother, who emigrates from Chile to the U.S., with his own story of growing up in both countries. . . .This touching memoir is an important edition to the canon of gay memoirs and brings Reyes’ queer Latino experience front and center as simply an American story.”—Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Lambda Literary