Carrillo, H.G. 1960-
CARRILLO, H.G. 1960-
(Herman G. Carrillo)
PERSONAL: Born 1960. Education: DePaul University, B.A. (English), B.A. (Spanish); Cornell University, M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. candidate.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Stuart Bernstein, Representation for Artists, 63 Carmine St., 3D, New York, NY 10014; fax: 212-924-6467.
CAREER: Writer. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, instructor.
AWARDS, HONORS: Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts grant, 2003.
Loosing My Espanish (novel), Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including Iowa Review, Glimmer Train, and Kenyon Review.
SIDELIGHTS: H.G. Carrillo uses his writing to explore the experiences of Spanish speakers living in the United States, examining both their lives in this country and the culture, traditions, and turmoil they left behind in their native lands. In addition to publishing his first novel-length work, Loosing My Espanish, in 2004, Carrillo has contributed short fiction to such periodicals as Glimmer Train and the Kenyon Review.
Loosing My Espanish recounts the troubles and transitions of Óscar Delossantos, a Cuban American living in Chicago and teaching at a local Jesuit school. At the start of the story, Delossantos is about to be let go from his position after twenty years of employment, the reason for his dismissal alleged inappropriate behavior. Having little to lose, Delossantos decides to give his students an unusual history lesson based on his own viewpoint: he recounts his family's flight from Cuba and the political unrest that prevailed during the time. The anecdotal nature of his accounting introduces readers to his colorful family members, as well as to the history of the Cuba they left.
In relating Delossantos's story, Carrillo uses a mix of English and Spanish, and is conscious of the speech patterns of the non-native speaker of English as well as the ways in which Spanish has increasingly become sprinkled throughout Anglo culture. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews remarked that, "if a criticism had to be made, it's that Carrillo lets the language—a power-ful and passionate tool in his hands—overtake the story to the point of obscuring some more interesting details." Lawrence Rungren, reviewing Loosing My Espanish for Library Journal, called the novel "a gritty yet lyrically evocative book of memory, a heartrending attempt to recapture a world about to disappear into the mists of time."
Not all reviewers appreciated Carrillo's literary intricacy. In a review for Publishers Weekly, a contributor wrote that the novel contains both "clunky transitions and muddled syntax, which … drown the reader in a flood of semicolons, dashes and narrative digressions." However, several critics admired the impressive task Carrillo shoulders in the book. Wendy Gimbel, reviewing the novel for the Washington Post Book World, noted that, "in this complexly structured novel, Óscar's narrative moves backward and forward, alternating between the present and historical time. If one considers the present moment as a force field that holds together all the disparate elements in the book, a cohesive tale emerges from a seemingly disorderly series of scenes." Gimbel went on to call Carrillo "a master of these kaleidoscopic techniques." Ilan Stevens, in a review of Loosing My Espanish for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the book, while "at least in form,… formulaic,… is, however, written with a level of style that shines. Its sentences twist and turn, first embracing then rejecting pure, uncontaminated English and Spanish. The result is a delicious hodgepodge." Denolyn Carroll, writing in the Black Issues Book Review, called Carrillo's work a "poignant debut novel" and a "superbly crafted work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Black Issues Book Review, January-February, 2005, Denolyn Carroll, "Stories of Heritage and Memory," review of Loosing My Espanish, p. 62.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2004, review of Loosing My Espanish, p. 820.
Library Journal, September 15, 2004, Lawrence Rungren, review of Loosing My Espanish, p. 47.
Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2005, Ilan Stavans, review of Loosing My Espanish, p. E6.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 2004, review of Loosing My Espanish, p. 37.
Washington Post Book World, January 16, 2005, Wendy Gimbel, "Dreaming in Cuban," p. T15.
Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts Web site, http://www.saltonstall.org/ (May 3, 2005), "H.G. Carrillo."
Express Gay News Web site, http://www.expressgaynews.com/ (May 20, 2005), "H.G. Carrillo."
Pantheon Books Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/pantheon/ (May 3, 2005), "H.G. Carrillo."
[Sketch reviewed by agent, Stuart Bernstein, Representation for Artists.]