Elements is a wild ride through the barrios of East L.A.: two homeboys caught in a burglary, a Hollywood weirdo, a loner brooding on a drug deal, and a would-be writer cartwheeling across the landscape, falling down flat and getting up again in a series of stories displaying the confusion and angst, and the joys and beauties, of being Mexican American and being alive.
"Like rap and hip-hop, Elements is composed of concentric levels that build, self-comment, deconstruct and construct until we have a complex portrayal of a Latino buoyed up by the polyphony of voices within. Playing the game and hating the game, assimilating and giving the finger to assimilation, these 'elements' are really powerful designs within an intricate tapestry of an east L.A. presence that is Latino, talented, angry, and often brutally hilarious." —Omar S. Castaneda
It was a little college town I lived in, went to school in, cowboys and gunracks gunning down the street, a few cholos, a few Chicanos, lots of mojados working the outskirts of townI met a few vaqueros, real vaqueros, who had dignidad, worked on the ranches in the great Central Valley and had dignidad: I hope their kids don't' grow up stupid...Once, and in a town the size of my fist it opened up to explode a brown flower dripping sunlight like butter oozing over the digits...
I learned to be a writer.
My room was a dump, smallish and cramped, with a couch and a bed and a desk and a can of pencils and always a loose-leaf folder on the desk, me never knowing when it was going to happen. When I was going to work. When I was going to fill this damn thing up with something worth rereading and reshaping and showing to Gary Thompson, my friend and mentor at Chico State.
My teacher, and a good one...
I made him laugh once in his office with a draft of a story, really laugh, not fake laugh, and that was something. I walked out feeling good that I was a writer at some level.