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A large part of the appeal of synagogue has to do with Hebrew, the language I was taught in my Jewish middle school, and my nostalgia for its sounds.When I’m in synagogue I feel as if I’m part of something huge, something that predates me, and will continue long after I die.That is the process I want to describe in my prose. SL: Hunger of Memory has passages in which you vividly describe your memories of how the mumbled, undecipherable sounds of English slowly gained meaning. There remains in us a nostalgia for the time in our lives when words were sounds.
And, because (since September 11th) religion is now the largest issue of our time, I find myself writing about religion—its madness, its glory, its dangers and possibilities.
SL: Many writers think of nonfiction as a stultifying genre, one constrained by facts.
Latin separated me from Walt Disney and Elvis Presley, but it connected me with ancient Rome.
SL: You cover an enormous expanse of material in a single essay.
(There is a venerable tradition of writers in Latin America—the very best writers—engaging in political and civic matters in their writing lives.
I honor that tradition with my humble imitation.) Also, as a homosexual man, I am attracted to issues of sexuality, especially the lives of women in America.
SL: In one of your interviews you spoke about summoning writing – that it feels as if you’re a conduit, as if the words come to you as if they had been waiting in the ether for you to put them to paper. The writer waits until the graces (or grace) flows through him. The writing which Monday was so sluggish is suddenly free on Tuesday. SL: RR: Basically, the narrative that interests me is the narrative of our thinking lives. I want to indicate to the reader the process of thinking, even more than I am interested in the conclusion of my thinking.
Thought is always moving—changing, deepening, contradicting itself, etc.
Rodriguez wrote about his early experiences in Catholic school and his assimilation to America in his first book, , further explore issues of culture, race, and identity.
Rodriguez has received the George Foster Peabody Award, the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the International Journalism Award from the World Affairs Council of California.