Episode 43 with Award-Winning, Humorous and Generous Nonfiction and Fiction Writer, Author of Recent Powerhouse The House of Broken Angels

22Feb

Show Notes and References From Episode 43

 

On Episode 43, Pete is honored to speak with Luis Alberto Urrea, award-winning writer, educator, humanitarian, and one heck of a humorous and generous guy. The two discuss a myriad of topics, with many revolving around his most recent book, The House of Broken Angels, an emotionally-shattering, frenetic, and gorgeous novel, and his Pulitzer Prize-nominated nonfiction work, The Devil’s Highway.

 

-at about 6:40, Luis talks about growing up in Tijuana as an “artsy kid” who was “infected with a desire for art,” writing and drawing

 

-at about 10:10, Luis talks about his incredible encounter with Ursula LeGuin (regarding a piece that he wrote about his father’s death) that changed his life

 

-at about 14:05, Luis recounts another life-changing event in his literary life, involving friends and a pivotal question from an early reader of his

 

-at about 16:25-Luis talks about his father’s attempts at getting Luis to read more texts en español and the “culture war” inside his house

 

-at about 19:05-Luis talks about writing about his father’s tragic death

 

-at about 24:45-Luis talks about those writers and texts who brought him “chills at will,” starting with hearing Dickens as a kid, read by his mother, “seeing waves of the ocean formed by words”

 

-at about 27:25-Luis talks about more chill-inducing reading-his love of Poe and Ambrose Bierce and being blown away by Ray Bradbury

 

-at about 29:30-Luis talks about the beauty and surrealism of being accepted into the “Writers’ Club”

 

-at about 30:30-Luis talks about the community of writers and his experience in his early days of writing and work in the community, including his connection with Alurista, Father Cesar Gonzalez, Rudolfo Anaya, Juan Felipe Herrera, and more-this time is what he calls his “training period” and “all about service”

 

-at about 34:45, Luis talks about an interesting character, Dave, from The House of Broken Angels, and his connection to real-life Jesuit activist Father Dave Ungerleider

 

-at about 37:25, Luis discusses being in service, as a bicultural and bilingual person who has built “bridges, rather than borders”

 

-at about 39:25, Luis discusses The Devil's Highway and how he came to be the writer of such a book

 

-at about 43:20, Luis talks about his early wariness on both sides with Border Patrol as he researched the book, as well as the work of researching 

 

-at about 53:40, Luis talks about looking back at Devil’s Highway years later and all that entails

 

-at about 55:00, Pete and Luis talk about Luis’ use of second person narration to great effect, and Luis talks about the inspirations/motivations for second person, including his admiration for the way his friend Stewart O’Nan uses it in The Names of the Dead

 

-at about 56:10, Luis talks about the incredibly-affecting scene in The Devil’s Highway in which the four stages of heat stroke, as experienced by the Yuma 14, are explained in great detail

 

-at about 58:35, Luis talks about The House of Broken Angels and why he has called the real-life experiences that inspired the book “The Mexican Finnegan’s Wake

 

-at about 1:04:45, Pete and Luis talk about some of the humor that permeates the novel, as well as the book’s addendum, a DelaCruz family tree

 

-at about 1:07:50, Luis and Pete talk about the use of “carnal” in the book and the book’s utter carnality, which is part of what makes the book so riveting 

 

-at about 1:12:35, Luis discusses the pivotal, flawed, lovable, and charismatic character of Big Angel in the novel, including connection between Don Corleone, The Godfather, and Luis’ father

 

-at about 1:14:50, Luis explains the background of the beautiful and pivotal scene in The House of Broken Angels where Big Angel and Little Angel lay in bed together and discuss life

 

-at about 1:17:30, Luis explains his approach in writing the book’s Coda, including inspiration provided by Respighi's "Fountains of Rome"

 

-at about 1:20:45, Luis discusses his upcoming book, a “World War II epic, inspired by [his] mother’s service in The Red Cross.”

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The intro song for The Chills at Will Podcast is “Wind Down” (Instrumental Version), and the other song played on this episode was “Hoops” (Instrumental)” by Matt Weidauer, and both songs are used through ArchesAudio.com.

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