12. Charlie Vázquez

vazquez

April 9
1. READ: Charlie Vásquez, “Yerno” in From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction  (Part 1 & Part 2)
2. READ: Charlie Vásquez, “City Of The Dead
3. PRESENTATION: Ken “Kaydo” Dortche & Jesse Drinks

Download Charlie Vasquez Presentation

April 10

Charlie Vazquez flyer

A conversation with Charlie Vasquez

April 11
No class

41 Responses to 12. Charlie Vázquez

  1. Brittany Demers says:

    As I begun reading City of the Dead, I felt it was appropriately named. I felt like this could have been a dream that someone was having. The quote “In a city of what should’ve been millions, I was alone” (Vazquez) seemed to perfectly describe what it was like for the narrator walking through town. As I continued reading, it than seemed to me that the narrator was maybe a ghost, especially when he mentions the music “The music of the living has no place here, I thought to myself” (Vazquez). This is where I started to get really confused and I couldn’t help but question where is he? Is he alive or dead? Are these metaphors for how he feels about life? The entrance of the next man seemed very ghostly to me as well.

    I was also interested in why the narrator was here and what he was expecting after the second man says “We’re never what you expect” (Vazquez). What was he looking for? Was he there to see someone specific? The last few paragraphs give me some sense to understand that the “host” that the narrator is going to see is a higher power. Did the narrator lose the things that this host is giving him back through death? Is this maybe how the narrator pictures death? Is the host some kind of healer? Did the narrator want to start his life over?

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I had many of the same questions as you after I read the story. It almost seems like the character is a ghost and that he is being given another chance. I also was wondering about the religious imagery and metaphors. It seemed like there could be connections to religion. I did think that the descriptions were really vivid. I think you are right about the metaphors, it seems like maybe this story is a dream full of metaphors for the character’s life.

      • I completely agree. I found myself questioning the main character existence. I also didn`t know if he was dead or alive. I thought maybe he could be some sort of ghost but then thought maybe he was a spirit and I took in account all of the religious metaphors. A lot of the questions you ask in your last paragraphs I thought of as well. I`m unsure of what he was looking for but I did see a connection between religion and the imagery used the the story. Maybe he did want a second chance at life.

    • I completely agree with you as I was reading I noticed that I also had a lot of questions that came up while I was reading. I noticed that there was a lot of metaphors not only about death and religion but also about the person himself. As if he was alone and did not have any type of support he states a lot that he has felt like he is alone. I wondering if he is trying to find himself and struggling with death and religion?

    • I also had these same questions. I thought that the “host” had to be something of a higher power because of the things that he was saying to the narrator. When the story ended with the narrator in the abandoned church I thought that maybe he had gone there to confess, and then had some sort of out of body experience. The story left a lot of room for interpretation.

      • Amber Jones says:

        I think the reason why we questioned this story so much because it leaves immense room for our own perceptions. The author doesn’t go in great detail where he tells us out right what he means by certain things in the story. In class I remember someone saying that the man that breathed life into him was a paramedic , which put me into a loop because all along I thought he was Jesus ( in the literal sense). I really read this story as having Christian connotations and now I’m second guessing myself.

    • John Wilkinson says:

      In reading “City of the Dead,” I was also rather confused at times. The man claiming to be Jesus also seems as if he could be a personified Death or at least a supernatural being. More so, the narrator is both attracted to and repulsed by the man. There seems to be a presence of people in the city, though never accessible by the narrator, as if he could just hear them through walls but never encounter them. I’m not sure if it’s a general comment on identity or simply on of the narrator’s identity.

  2. Sabryne Vidal says:

    I really enjoyed reading City of the Dead because I thought it had a lot of descriptive imagery which allowed me to envision the events taking place. Interpreting the story, I first noticed the narrator’s sense of loneliness and confusion. In the following quote, “In a city of what should’ve been millions, I was alone” (Vazquez), I get the feeling that he’s either dreaming or that he could be a ghost or spirit roaming the dark and empty streets at night. Then as I continued to read, he seemed displaced, maybe out of his own body which could mean that he’s a ghost. Like in the beginning, he knew where he was going but he was unsure of why he was headed there. I felt like he was experiencing some kind of out of body experience, “when the train opened to let me out, I drifted down the length of the platform and descended to the street level, where I continued to walk—guided by instinct” (Vazquez) because it seemed like the narrator was being lured into some kind of situation by some other force, like there was a higher influence or power telling him to go somewhere without him knowing as to why. It’s like this power is controlling his body, and the narrator just passively follows the mysterious path to the small brick building which is revealed to be a church later on.

    Upon entering the building and finding the restaurant type room, the narrator encounters another individual but is unable to see him or her clearly. Eventually, the narrator is able to make his face out and isn’t very impressed by his looks. He introduces himself as Jesus, then he continues to say, “First impressions are not reliable, they’re as random as anything else. In previous lives, I met people who I wanted to trust—only to discover they were cheats and thieves and men empty of compassion. And many people who disgusted me at first sight rose in rank to holiness” (Vazquez) and then “Strange you should remember that. That’s why starting over is such a wonderful thing” (Vazquez). At this point, I’m assuming the narrator has died and is experiencing some kind of out of body experience as I mentioned above. I’m assuming that this man named Jesus (higher power who has led him to the church), is giving the narrator a second chance of life, another chance to develop a better sense of compassion for others, to not judge or criticize other just as he had done with him.

    Then the story goes on to describe the rituals Jesus performs on the narrator in the following quote, “I give back to you the power of thought and eternal wisdom” and “I now give back to you the power to feel” and then, “I now give you the power to pay tribute to me always—and forevermore” (Vazquez). This last power that Jesus gives to the narrator may be what brings him back to life in the end, and doing so so that he may spread compassion and wisdom in everyone he encounters? I’m not sure why the narrator is dead in the first place, maybe he’s attempted suicide and it wasn’t successful or the narrator could be dying of some illness (depression or AIDS) and Jesus is telling him that it’s not his time yet, sending him back with powers that will give him the strength he needs to live.This may be his resurrection to start a new life with the guidance of Jesus. There are many metaphors that are up for interpretation and I hope we go over them in class.
    ~Sabryne Vidal
    04/07/2013

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I felt like the narrator was out of his own body as well. The more that I thought about it the description made it seem that it couldn’t have been a dream and it had to be something else, there was too much detail. I also agree that the Host was some sort of higher power. I’m not sure if he was exactly what type of higher power he was. Was he a god? Was he the God? Was he giving him back life? I wish he gave a few more clues to what was actually going on.

      • Sabryne Vidal says:

        Brittany, I know what you mean- I wish he had given more hints as to who the Host was. Unfortunately, I attended the reading a little late yesterday and Mr.Vazquez may or may not have gone over the story. As for now, I think it’s safe to assume that the Host is a higher power and that it’s mostly likely Jesus since his name was in fact Jesus. But I remember in the class presentation we had on the story, Kaydo suggested that the narrator may have been receiving CPR. So now I feel like he was dead, and this is when the Host contacted him. However, maybe the Host was in fact whoever it was that performed CPR on him and this in someway manifested itself into the vision of Jesus. If this is so, it could be a result of his religious desire to be accepted by Jesus and granted entrance into the Lord’s kingdom. But it is still pretty unclear no matter which interpretation I give it!
        ~Sabryne Vidal
        04/11/2013

  3. Lauren Carabetta says:

    I thought it was interesting that Yermo was written as a letter. I interpreted it as a love letter that described the day the two characters met. I paid attention to the terms that were used in the letter to describe Yermo. I noticed that Yermo was described as having a husky voice but also as a man with earthly beauty (29). The word handsome was also used to describe Yermo. Describing men as beautiful is something that we have discussed in class. The norm is to describe a man as handsome and a woman as beautiful. This letter used both terms to describe the same man, suggesting that the terms are interchangeable.

    I think that both men and women can be described as beautiful. I liked that the story had so many rich elemental details. They helped paint a picture. It also was interesting that Yermo was a military man, which is often connected to the stereotypical image of a macho manly man. The letter described the macho and the softer elements of Yermo. I wanted to know what happened to him and why Carlos couldn’t find him.

    • These terms you speak of also made me think back to the class discussion we had about word choice and how certain words are used to describe certain people. We assume that beauty is feminine and that`s why we don`t associate it with men. However, if we thought of the word as just a way to describe someone`s physical characteristics they would be interchangeable with other descriptive words. It interesting to think of a husky military man being considered beautiful in such as hyper masculine world.

      • Imaani Cain says:

        in response to Lauren wondering why Carlos couldn’t find Yermo, do you think that it’s because Yermo felt, on some level, ashamed? Carlos wanted to talk to him about the events that happened, but Yermo refused to and acted as if it didn’t happen. Also, the policies towards being homosexual/being ina queer relationship differ in countries, so it’s possible that Yermo thought their relationship just could not continue.

      • Lauren Carabetta says:

        Imaani- You make a good point. I didn’t think about it that way. Yermo may have disappeared to erase the memory and to act like it never happened. He could have ran away to make sure Carlos wouldn’t be able to find him. That is probably why Carlos said he would throw the letter into the river. Carlos knew Yermo left and that he wasn’t coming back for him. He had to let him go.

    • The part where Yermo was described as being both handsome and beautiful also stuck out to me because of the discussion that we had in class. Men are usually described as handsome and women as beautiful, so the fact that both of these adjectives were used to describe Yermo made me think that he had some softer features that made him “beautiful”.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I agree with you that both men and women can use the word beautiful. I definitely think this gave me a better picture of what Yermo was like. It was also easy to know how the author felt about him. It was comparable to life in general, and how people feel when they are attracted to someone. I think sometimes men do not like to be called beautiful because they feel as it is a threat to their masculinity on the account this is a word that is usually associated with women, Beauty is also associated with children and this too could be a reason why men do not like being called beautiful.

    • John Wilkinson says:

      I think that Yermo is ashamed of himself, or at least his sexuality and attraction to the narrator. The first overly explicit sexual scene has Yermo masturbating beneath the water. This is clearly a sexual act and is targeted toward Carlos, both literally and figuratively. However, Yermo still attempts to conceal the act beneath the water and at any time Carlos addresses something between them, Yermo reacts unpleasantly. Furthermore, Yermo can’t seem to separate Carlos from being American. Yermo clearly harbors resentment and some blame towards Americans and Carlos comes to represent that to him. In addition to being ashamed of his sexuality, he is also unable to contend with feeling for an American, a member of a population he seems to hate.

  4. Skylar Smith says:

    This weeks readings were very well written. Both “Yermo” and “City of the Dead” created immense illustrative imagery. Yermo was interesting to say the least because upon reading it, I got the feeling of a sense of annoyance and even hatred from within the narrator but also a sense of curiosity and love. As I got to the end of the letter and the narrator could not find Guillermo, he said “I will tear this letter up tomorrow at midnight and give it to your river, to you, to the gods that spoke through you when you came on me – to our gods” (Vazquez, pg. 41). Throughout the entire letter, Carlos kept on saying “you …” and for the first time at the end, Carlos said “our …..” This was the moment where I realized the amount of respect and even a sense of love that Carlos had for Yermo. Yermo challenged Carlos and I do not think Carlos was expecting that one bit when he pulled over to buy fruits. When the two were playing pool together and they get in a fight, Yermo says “you people…who think you know everything about everybody” (Vazquez, pg. 39). Although, Carlos tells him that there are people like that but he is not one of him, Carlos is continuing to see the challenges that Yermo imposes on to him.

    It is interesting that we learn so much about Yermo, yet nothing about Carlos. Yermo stands for much more than just a fruit vendor on the side of the street. He stands for other military men that served for the United States and are now left selling fruit to make days end. He represents the streets and everything they have to offer. Yermo was an incredibly smart man who stayed on the street selling fruit and bathed in the river, even though he knew an incredible amount of languages. He showed Carlos a way of life that Carlos had never imagined. In the beginning, Carlos says “you who impregnated me with something I will never part with” (Vazquez, pg. 29). After finishing the letter, from what I understood, Carlos learned certain life lessons from Yermo. Yermo knew Carlos did not have an appointment that day, that he was simply rushing to go back to his normal routine but Yermo interrupted his routine and took him out of his element. For this reason, I believe that Carlos will never forget Yermo and the challenges he rose, wherever he may have gone.

  5. Amber Jones says:

    I enjoyed reading Yermo because I believe it represented a man who just wanted love. It was evident that Yermo yearned for affection because he jumped at the first sight of Carlos. At first I thought it was pretty weird how Yermo was so direct and demanding with him; how he asked for a ride and then demanded that he take him all these places. But as time progressed I started to think that Yermo must have noticed that Carlos was attracted to him. The scene at the river was one that was very complex in my opinion. I kind of looked deeper into this scene in order to expose more. Many would see that Yermo’s act of masturbating in front of Carlos was the defining moment where it exposed a mutuality between them but I would say that this moment was a time where Yermo felt the most uncomfortable. Since they were secluded from society they were vacant of judgments and the mere fact that they were in the river expresses something deeper. For Yermo the fact that he wanted to go to the river exposes he could rinse himself of what he just did. I say this because I do not think that Yermo accepted his sexuality. We can see this through his switching between personalities, one minute he is sweet and the next he is bitter; toward Carlos. In the end I thought things would come to a full circle when Yermo softly grabs his hand but we see that in the very last part that Carlos loses Yermo . I wonder what happened? I wonder if Yermo had to go back to the military or if he could not continue to be with him or if he actually committed suicide because of all the damage he received from the war?

    • Imaani Cain says:

      I don’t know if I think that Carlos was just a man “looking for love”. It seemed to be part of the hook-up culture that we visited in City of God, where instead of looking for a long-term relationship, he was merely looking for some sort of sexual release. I don’t see how they could’ve loved each other, as Yermo and Carlos spent the short time they had together filled to the brim with aggression, anger, and displays of dominance.

  6. I truly enjoyed reading City of The Dead, this story was filled with metaphors while keeping you on the edge making you wonder what it is that the person is truly talking about. To me it seems as if he is lost on the train he may of been drugged because he isn’t able to recall where he has put his keys, wallet or any of his belongings that he once had. For example, “I focused and let myself in the front door that (under ordinary circumstances) should’ve been locked. My entrance stirred nothing. The walls appeared to be made of polished, sand-colored stone. The imposing central stairs were silent with the peace of night—they were enwrapped in sleep. I closed the heavy wooden door behind me and surveyed the height of the staircase. As I climbed it, one floating step at a time, I felt the urge to go back down.” The stairs truly can’t talk but for them to be silent to me it is that he is alone and no one is there to make a sound or be there to talk to. I believe that all the writer truly wanted was the affection and presence of someone there sometimes being alone makes us lonely and I believe thats the real fight of the writer.

    • I agree, I thought that the silence of the building and the stairs definitely represented his overall lonliness in the story, and that going up the big flight of stairs represented him trying to conquer his fears, while still having that doubt in the back of his mind when he says that he felt the urge to stop and go back down.

  7. Joseph C. Sokola says:

    I enjoyed reading the City of the Dead because I really liked how it kept me on the edge of my seat as to what would happen next in this strange, deserted, dream-like city. At the beginning, I was not sure if the story was supposed to be a dream or the narrator was dying, because the character lacked most of his senses, and the whole scene seemed creepy. The imagery reminded me of some kind of horror movie. When Jesus gives the narrator the power of thought, eternal wisdom and the ability to feel, and then sends him on his way, I thought that the story seems to be documenting a near-death experience that the narrator is having. When the strange person identified himself as Jesus, I found myself wondering if the name is meant to be pronounced in the English way or the Spanish way, because Jesus used Spanish when calling the narrator “Pobrecito.” When the narrator thinks to himself, “The music of the living has no place here,” I perceived that as a kind of confirmation that the narrator is indeed dead, but being that he is so disoriented and does not even understand where he is or what is going on, perhaps Jesus notices that the narrator does not belong there yet. Perhaps he is being given another chance at life, and this incident is a way of trying to encourage the narrator to become more spiritual?

  8. Audrey Allyn says:

    “Yerno” was a story that followed a man that had an infatuation. He saw a street vendor that he thought was attractive and after driving by him many times, he finally made the plunge and introduced himself. Although he was scared to let himself go in the presence of a stranger, he definitely made it known that he was attracted to this man. His mixed emotions show that he is confused, maybe in his sexuality and the fact that he is in the presence of a stranger. He even brings up the notion of killing the man before he kills him. He obviously has evaluated the situation and realized that he could be unsafe and this man could be anyone.

    City of the Dead also brings up the fact that we could have different perceptions of people that are inaccurate. Jesus, the man that the narrator encounters in City of the Dead is not the person he thought he was. Both Carlos and the narrator are curious of the unknown and the fact that anything could happen. They both show that they have thought about both situations that occur in each story and the different outcomes, and neither seems to go as they had planned or fantasized. Both people struggle with how they should react and how they are being perceived, knowing that they are in a situation that they are uncomfortable with. I think the fact that both people continue to ultimately trust both of their partners even though they are uncomfortable, scared, and embarrassed shows that they show trust in them. They want them to be the people that they imagined and they are intrigued by the notion that they might not be.

  9. In City of God the way the story is portrayed was very interesting. There is a great use of religious metaphors as well as fancy imagery that shapes the writing. The suspense of who the main character is and why he arrived to this particular location makes the reader want to know more. There is a lot of examples about him being alone ( both as a feeling and his surroundings).

    This made me think that the main character is a spirit and the conversation with Jesus suggest that he wants a second chance at life. I noticed that the character seems lost but it`s apparent that he has a destination in mind. It almost seems like he`s just moving where ever his body takes him and this place it arrives at is where his mind and body can be connected again.

    I wanted to know the cause of the character`s death. Was his cause of death shameful? This building he arrives at which I assumed was a church appear to be empty too. I wondered why his power was taken to begin with. I hope we get to discuss this reading in class.

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I had many of the same questions as you when I read this story. After class, I thought I understood the story a bit more. The discussion about the religious symbolism that is in the story made me think about the rebirth and spiritual aspect that you mentioned. I think it is interesting that so many of us had the same questions about this story. Perhaps that is what the author intended. I still feel like the story could continue, I’m just not sure where it would lead. The whole story seems to be a metaphor for a new life.

  10. Amber Jones says:

    In regards to the City of the Dead I thought the writing was full of great imaginary that express the main characters endurances and feelings. Although the writing was beautiful I felt a sense of confusion, I did not understand the purpose of the writing. What I got from the reading was the main character was alone in a dark town and soon arrived in an abandoned building where he was introduced to Jesus.He was vacant of essential senses and when he saw Jesus he felt a need to apologize. I wondered what he needed to apologize for? This piece of writing was very religious and we can see this when Jesus restores him. He gives him back feeling and sight and the mere touch of Jesus sent a different type of feeling through them. Although we are not explicitly told what he did and why he was there I insinuated that the main character must have felt guilt and this guilt led to the dream he dreamt. It is essential to note though how Jesus makes him feel at ease when he states, “ First impression are not reliable they’re as random as anything else. In previous lives, I met people who disgusted me at first sight rose in rank to holiness” (Vazquez). I believe these words was what the main character needed to hear the most, it related back to his insecurities and by hearing Jesus say that it doesn’t matter about first impressions he exposed that the what you possessed in your heart is more important. The ending also shows how Jesus redeemed him, “ I coughed my way back to life, as my heart began to beat on its own. It was then that he whispered, “I now give you the power to pay tribute to me always—and forevermore.”(Vazquez) In this I thought that Jesus was just letting him know that he does not disregard him or dislike his actions but he just wants him to acknowledge his presence.

  11. Amy Hahm says:

    The first thing I noticed about The City of the Dead was the extremely descriptive language used by Charlie Vazquez. He did such an amazing job creating these images to the reader. The overall feeling and tone I got from the reading was curiosity. There were several moments in the reading where I thought the narrator was unsure about encountering this man. I got the feeling that he was unsure and uncomfortable being with the strange man, but he continues to interact with him because of his curiosity. The narrator was very fascinated by this man. I was caught off guard because I thought the man’s approach was very odd because the narrator seemed startled at first, “He laughed deeply when I tried to find my way out: I was trapped with him.” It was interesting that he continued to stay and interact with the strange man.

    I was also unsure what was happening between them. The narrator said he felt love, “I felt the anguish of love lost and the radiance of love realized at the same time.” And at the end of the story, he realized he was in an abandoned church. I was wondering if that can be symbolic of the story and what was happening. Religion is a large reason why many people are against homosexuality. And we learned that many Latinos have strong religious backgrounds. The fact they were interacting in a destroyed church was very interesting to me. I really enjoyed this read because of the descriptive language and the emotional tone that the narrator set.

    • I can personally understand how the narrator felt with being a lone with a strange man. I often times might walk home alone from the library and become instantly uncomfortable when I see someone walking near me. I believe that it is just stranger anxiety we are trained to be uncomfortable when we are around people who are unknown to us because we believe that they may essentially harm us.
      This leads back to the idea of men are machismo and are more likely to hurt us then women. When in reality women can still hurt men and can still become attackers. We tend to associate certain words and themes relate back to men and their ability to do harm on us. I believe that this is associated with them because we associate them to be strong and masculine while growing up.

    • I also felt that the narrator was a little uncomfortable and resistant with the “host” at first, but after a while I thought that the narrator had found some peace with him because he was so lonely and it was a relief for him to have someone to interact with. The host seemed as though he was there to give the narrator some comfort and acceptance because he did not seem as though he was in a very good place in his life at the time.

  12. Imaani Cain says:

    I admit that I wasn’t completely sure what the focus of “City of the Dead” was supposed to be. I felt as if it was possibly meant to be with a man who had maybe been legally dead (or have felt figuratively dead). I wasn’t even completely sure who the man the narrator was talking to was meant to be; he didn’t seem to be overtly malicious, but not benevolent either. It’s possible that perhaps he was meant to be a god-like figure?

    “Yermo” made much more sense to me, however. Yermo and Carlos seem to engage in a system of one-upping each other; Yermo views Carlos as having an incredibly privileged lifestyle, while he has been left to poverty in Puerto Rico. There is also a case of each trying to assert their dominance over the other; Carlos tries to shoot Yermo, and Yermo masturbates in front of Carlos as some sort of aggressive power play/display of sexual satisfaction. I can understand liking someone intensely, even when you’ve only just met them, but the extent to which it went seemed rather abnormal to me. Why would you let someone into your car when they have all but demanded to be taken somewhere, and then continue to remain with them even after they’ve pried into your life and insulted you. I thought at first it might just be some sort of odd solidarity that Carlos felt for Yermo, but it formed into something much stranger. The only thing that was clear to me was the overt sexual nature that Vasquez created in the two characters’ circumstances.

    • Amber Jones says:

      I couldn’t understand Carlo’s logic behind letting this stranger ( Yermo) get in his car. It seemed like Carlos had an eye on him for a while so I’m guessing once Yermo engaged with him he did not want it to stop so he allowed for him to get in his car. The only thing that confuses me is that Carlos felt threatened and feared for his life when he was with Yermo; if he felt all these negative feelings why then did he continue to interact with him? Lust is powerful , but is it so powerful that you’ll risk your life doing the unknown?

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I also noticed the power dynamic between Carlos and Yermo. They were competing with each other and challenging each other throughout the story. They were arguing over who had a harder life as if it was a competition. I agree that they were constantly trying to assert dominance over each other. In class, we keep discussing the stereotypical link between dominance and masculinity which seems to be visible in this story. I thought the whole dynamic between the two characters was odd from their competition to the fact that they were complete strangers.

  13. City of the Dead was one of the more confusing but interesting stories we’ve read thus far. The whole time that I was reading I had expected that eventually, most likely at the end, the narrator would wake up realizing that the whole thing was a dream, so I was really surprised when that didn’t happen. I really enjoyed it though because it had very vivid imagery so it made it easy to visualize while reading.
    When the mysterious man said to the narrator “You made it”, I wondered why he was expecting him, or who this man was. I also thought it was odd that the man that the narrator met said to him, “Beautiful day it is out there,” he continued, “…beautiful day” after the narrator had just described everything as dark. I assumed from the title of the reading that maybe the narrator was in heaven or hell, but then at the end he said that he was in an abandoned church, so I thought that maybe that was symbolizing something, but I really couldn’t figure out what.

    • Amber Jones says:

      Many people think that the man is just a regular guy but I think that he is of a higher power ( Jesus). When he state ‘” You made it” , it was a clear indictor that he was expecting him to come just like Jesus expects his people to come to him. Most the things that the man was saying correlated and can be related to biblically. Since I was thinking religiously when her stated what a beautiful day out there when it was evidently dark outside I related to the notion of when someone is hardest hit they go to God for relief. So the darkness was a juxtaposition of the soon relief and brightness he was going to receive. I don’t know if I’m thinking too deeply or not.

      • Sabryne Vidal says:

        Amber, I also thought that the second character was Jesus or another higher power. I hadn’t noticed the part when he said, “You made it”, but I would clearly connect it to what you stated above, about how the Jesus in the story acts as if he’d been expecting for the narrator come all along. He does in some way remind me of the Jesus in religion, and how he too waits for his people to come to him in their time of need or at the time of their death. Now that I think about it (with more of a religious perspective), it really does make more sense to me. Like you mentioned about the darkness at first, people do seek help in their darkest of times, and the narrator’s darkness could be an expression of loneliness, sadness/ depression etc, and with the story taking place in a church it’s like the narrator is seeking the help and solace that he needs to get out of the darkness taking over his life.
        ~Sabryne Vidal
        04/11/2013

    • Skylar Smith says:

      I have to agree that the imagery and metaphors used in this story are some of the best that we have experienced this semester. It was mildly confusing but as the reading evolved, it was easier to understand that the narrator was “trapped” between life and death. When the mysterious man mentioned that it was a beautiful day outside, it contrasted the narrators description of the dark place he is in. The mysterious man is trying to tell the narrator the chances he has, that it’s beautiful out there but he chooses to view how dark it is. The abandoned church definitely symbolizes life from a religious stand point, trying to give hope to the narrator. When the mysterious figure breathes in to him and his heart begins to beat on it’s own, he whispers ““I now give you the power to pay tribute to me always—and forevermore.” Hopefully the narrator takes this life after death experience as a second chance in life.

  14. City of the dead may be my favorite story that we have read so far. I interpreted it as a man who has died and was now going to the after life. The fact that he was in a city yet somehow didnt see a single person the entire time until he met Jesus, and the train ride which he mentioned it going through a long dark tunnel, which made me think of the stories from people who had near death experiences and reported seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, both made me think that he was dead and was on his way to either heaven or hell. Then when he was explaining his predestined route through the city on the way to the building, my belief of this being a religious story was reinforced since there is the idea in some religion of everything being predestined. But when he finally met Jesus and he rubbed the oil on him which apparently gave him the knowledge and experiences of Jesus’ lives and then told him that he was giving the power to pay tribute to him foorever and always while bringing him back to life it seemed that he was indeed dead but that this near death experience had become a religious awakening with him possibly becoming a born again christian, though we cant be sure since it ended there with him waking up in a church. The church itself reinforced this idea in me since he described as being half destroyed which made me think that maybe it was a symbol of how he had been in his life, with the church being half destroyed because up to this point he had maybe been a sinner or non believer and the church was a physical manifestation of this.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I agree that the way the church was described could have been a symbol of how the narrator’s life was lived. I definitely agree with you that the church could have been constructed like to symbolize that the narrator was not religious. I also think that the deconstructed church might have been a symbol of how the views of a certain church or religion made him feel throughout his life. I think that what was happening to the narrator with his host made me think that yes this person believes in something, but what he believes in, as far as a higher power, is not clear at all.

      • Sabryne Vidal says:

        I completely agree, the decrepit looking church could have represented the lack of faith in the narrator and/or how the narrator had been living a life of sin up to this point, and as a result perceives the church in this old and dilapidated state. The narrator probably felt like he was stepping in this church that would most likely reject him, but then is confronted with this higher power who doesn’t at all judge him for who he is but rather provides him with the power to feel again. It’s very much like a religious awakening that Jesus has given to him, and I feel like this awakening is a result of the narrator’s realization that there is a higher power like Jesus, who accepts him, who wants to help him, and who doesn’t judge him- giving him the strength to come back to life with a newly found sense of faith.
        ~Sabryne Vidal
        04/11/2013

  15. Nelson Veras says:

    I had a some free time and stopped by to see Charlie Vazquez talk at PRLACC on Wednesday. I found it interesting how he compared New York Puerto Ricans to Puerto Rico Puerto Ricans. As a gay Latino man he was oblivious to the norms in puerto rico. For example, in the United States he can very easily pick up when another man is hitting on him. However, when he was in Puerto Rico he found that other men hit on him in different strategic ways. He talks about being at the beach and a man asking to hold his shirt after sedictively taking it off infront of him. He said he couldn’t and didn’t think anything of it until his partner pointed out to him that he was being hit on. he was oblivious to him being hit on and seemed shock when realizing. Instances like this is what I feel made him write “Yermo” so we can see the differences between a gay Latino man from the states and another from the islands.

    He then starts to read the story and draws the attention of the entire audience. Some of us already read the story so he was asked, “what ends up happening between Yermo and Carlos?” He answers by saying that they did not have sex. He finds it much more interesting with the sexual tension between the two characters throughout the entire story, rather than making them have sex and that be it. He talks about the criticism he receives for not making them have sex, especially from his publisher. He was told to change it but he didn’t because the sexual tension is what makes the story more interesting.

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