BULL: What do you think makes this “Men’s Fiction” -or- Why did you send it to us?
Rosales: We’re all trying to write “People’s Fiction” first, I think. To appeal to as many folks out there as possible—hoping they’ll set the book down, take their beer bottle up, and think a bit. But my work, and this piece in particular, is also meant to investigate our ideas of manhood.
The boy’s uncle, Kiko, is a kind of hero to him. He may be a hero within a value system some of us recoil from—a macho, insecure, aggressive and possessive one—but nonetheless a value system that brings with it a sense of ritual, of tradition, and clearly defined sets of behavior easy for a boy to observe, to admire, and so to follow. When the the boy’s sister leaves Kiko—we get the sense that Kiko and his kind of neighborhood “criminal” conception of manhood will be exorcised from the boy’s life—the boy mourns not so much the loss of a person, but of an identity, and is frightened by a suddenly nebulous image of self.
We live in interesting times for men. Unlike more rigid times in our past, we are free to define manhood as we wish. There is evidence all over today’s pop culture that we enjoy an ironic distance from our past, while we remain nostalgic for the old hats men once wore, literally and figuratively.
We can’t help but think of certain movies, certain stories, certain drinks, as being “for men.” If I’d been brilliant enough to write a script like Tender Mercies, I’d have sent that. As soon as I wrote this humble story, I sent it to you. And if I could send you a drink, I’d send you the kind I’m drinking now– Stranahan’s, Colorado Whiskey. Neat.