Beacon Press: An Incomplete List of Names
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An Incomplete List of Names


Author: Michael Torres

An astonishing debut collection looking back on a community of Mexican American boys as they grapple with assimilation versus the impulse to create a world of their own.

Who do we belong to? This is the question Michael Torres ponders as he explores the roles that names, hometown, language, and others’ perceptions each play on our understanding of ourselves in An Incomplete List of Names. More than a boyhood ballad or a coming-of-age story, this collection illuminates the artist’s struggle to make sense of the disparate identities others have forced upon him.

His description of his childhood is both idyllic and nightmarish, sometimes veering between the two extremes, sometimes a surreal combination of both at once. He calls himself “the Pachuco’s grandson” or REMEK or Michael, depending on the context, and others follow his lead. He worries about losing his identification card, lest someone mistake his brown skin for evidence of a crime he never committed. He wonders what his students—imprisoned men who remind him of his high school friends and his own brother—make of him. He wonders how often his neighbors think about where he came from, if they ever do imagine where he came from.

When Torres returns to his hometown to find the layers of spray-painted evidence he and his boyhood friends left behind to prove their existence have been washed away by well-meaning municipal workers, he wonders how to collect a list of names that could match the eloquent truths those bubbled letters once secured.
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“In his magnificent enumerations; his allegiances; his ordeals of self, figure, and desire, Michael Torres gives us an uncharted and ‘incomplete,’ ever-flaming matrix of being and becoming a brown man, a person in an unknown America. Incredible, truth-fisted, shattering, groundbreaking.”
—Juan Felipe Herrera, poet laureate of the United States

“With poems that drop like beads of acid on paper, sizzling away first impressions and assumptions, revealing in their burning wake the underlayer of truth, and how it, after years, still smarts and bleeds and blossoms in us. I love this book more than I have any other book in a long time . . . celebrating our duality, the multitudinous breadth and depth of our varied and bounteous humanity.”
—Jimmy Santiago Baca

An Incomplete List of Names

ISBN: 978-080704674-6
Publication Date: 10/6/2020
Size:5.5 x 8.5 Inches (US)
Price:  $16.00
Format: Paperback
Not Yet Published
Will Ship On: October 2020
(Backorder policy)