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Author to read from book optioned for HBO series

By Carolina Astrain
April 21, 2014 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 21, 2014 at 11:22 p.m.


Here's an excerpt from Chapter 10, "The Mimis," from "The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir," written by Domingo Martinez:

• Before they started junior high, my sisters Mare and Margie had preemptively developed the fantasy of "the Mimis" between themselves as a means to cope with any feelings of inferiority they might have otherwise experienced by moving into the sinister world of teenage fashionistas, which, in Brownsville, was always tinged with border-town racism. First, they dyed their brown-black hair blonde until it turned the color and brittleness of hay, then they began dressing in Sergio Valente and Gloria Vanderbilt fashions, and then finally, in further escalation, decided to call each other, simply, Mimi. They had secretly reinvented themselves for the adolescent phase of their lives, and then decided to let the rest of us in on the secret on an "as-needed" basis. At the time, the rest of the family had not consciously realized that our job, as new Americans - and worse yet, as Texans - was to be as white as possible, and we honestly didn't see their delusion as anything other than another bewildering strata to our sisters' quest for a higher level of superior fashion, as teenage girls do. A typical conversation between them went like this: "Mimi, do you like my new Jordache jeans?" "Yes, Mimi, I do. Do I look rich in my new Nikes, Mimi?" "Mimi, you look like a tennis player, Mimi." "I know, Mimi. Maybe I should make Mom buy me a racquet." To help reinforce this pathological delusion, Marge had enlisted the help of Rex, a small gray terrier she had found rummaging in an overturned garbage can on a street near the Matamoros Bridge. She cornered the poor beast in an alley and caught it, lifting the matted, dreadlocked mutt by the armpits and deciding, right there, that the dog was a poodle and that it needed saving, naming it Rex. No one disagreed, or questioned why. Rex was introduced to our family as the Mimis' fugue was buzzing at its fever pitch, intoxicating everyone who came near and caught a whiff of the Mimis' Anais Anais perfume. (We had all seen the commercials on network television while watching Dallas or Knots Landing, and it was a forbidden fragrance for rain-depressed English women with secret muscular boyfriends who drove Jaguars dangerously through one-lane unpaved Scottish roads, so the Mimis had to have it, and so they found it at the local JC Penney, and had Mom pay for it.) Dan and Syl and me, we just kind of stank from the heat and dealt with it.

Source: The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir, by Domingo Martinez


• WHAT: Domingo Martinez, American Book Review Reading Series

WHEN: Noon Thursday

WHERE: Alcorn Auditorium, University of Houston-Victoria, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

COST: Free

When Domingo Martinez's father told him the family dog had been ripped to shreds by a pack of wild dogs, one word stuck with him - "reventaron," Spanish for breaking through or breaking open.

"The actual dictionary definition was nowhere near as powerful as I had felt it to be when I was a kid," Martinez, 42, said. "It was like a psychic wound for the rest of my life."

Martinez, the author of "The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir," will give a reading at the University of Houston-Victoria's Alcorn Auditorium at noon Thursday.

The memoir is composed of snapshots from different parts of Martinez's Mexican-American childhood in South Texas.

His memoir was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012.

The book has recently been optioned by HBO and piqued the interest of Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek, Martinez said.

The HBO project all began after Martinez had written a letter to Hayek suggesting she read the memoir.

At the time, Martinez said he was so broke he had to wait two weeks to get paid to afford the stationery to send the letter to Hayek, who was in Paris at the time.

After the letter was sent and got lost in Los Angeles, Martinez said the note eventually reached Hayek.

"The genesis of the whole HBO thing was that little bit of ambition I had late at night while feeling mopey," Martinez said. "That's what brought the book to her attention."

Hayek has hinted at wanting to play his younger grandmother, Martinez said.

In one chapter, Martinez recounts his sisters reinventing themselves as white-washed caricatures of the women they longed to be.

In another chapter, his Uncle Richard beats the author to a pulp after accusing his family of being "too white."

The theme of assimilation is heavy throughout Martinez's book.

The author moved to Seattle in his 20s, searching for his own identity and has lived there since.

When asked if he felt he had become a fully-assimilated adult and if he was satisfied with that transformation, he responded, "Am I satisfied with it? What I've done is become the best version of myself that I wanted to be, and I don't attach race or culture to it. I basically just followed my impulses and desires to become the person that I am."

Martinez will also read from his second book, "My Heart Is A Drunken Compass: A Memoir," scheduled for release in early November.



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