cover of book

Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa
by Rigoberto González
University of Wisconsin Press, 2006
Cloth: 978-0-299-21900-0 | Paper: 978-0-299-21904-8 | eISBN: 978-0-299-21903-1
Library of Congress Classification PS3557.O4695Z46 2006
Dewey Decimal Classification 813/.54


Heartbreaking, poetic, and intensely personal, Butterfly Boy is a unique coming out and coming-of-age story of a first-generation Chicano who trades one life for another, only to discover that history and memory are not exchangeable or forgettable. 

Growing up among poor migrant Mexican farmworkers, Rigoberto González also faces the pressure of coming-of-age as a gay man in a culture that prizes machismo. Losing his mother when he is twelve, González must then confront his father’s abandonment and an abiding sense of cultural estrangement, both from his adopted home in the United States and from a Mexican birthright. His only sense of connection gets forged in a violent relationship with an older man. By finding his calling as a writer, and by revisiting the relationship with his father during a trip to Mexico, González finally claims his identity at the intersection of race, class, and sexuality. The result is a leap of faith that every reader who ever felt like an outsider will immediately recognize.

2007 Finalist, Randy Shilts Awards for Gay Nonfiction, Publishing Triangle
Winner, American Book Awards, Before Columbus Foundation
Rigoberto González is the author of So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, a selection of the National Poetry Series, and of Other Fugitives and Other Strangers. A recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships and of several international artist residencies, he has also written two children's picture books, a literary biography, and an award-winning novel, Crossing Vines. He is on the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta—a coalition of Chicano/Latino activist writers. He works and lives in New York City.

"A deeply-felt work that belongs in the company of classic American memoirs such as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, When I Was Puerto Rican, and Hunger of Memory. Where it differs most memorably from those books is in its uncompromising depiction of a young person's sexual orientation. Engrossing, supremely enjoyable, and beautifully written."—Jaime Manrique, author of Eminent Maricones

"Rigoberto González is a writer who walks, with an elegant gait, the line between sorrow and laughter, anger and acceptance. His prose is shaped by the poetry of irony. And he is a master of it."—Richard Rodriguez, author of Brown: The Last Discovery of America



    Part 1: Smarting Points, Starting Points
    Summer's Passage, Southern California, 1990
    Welcome to Indio, California, Pop. 36,793
    Ghost Whisper to My Lover
    Now Leaving Mexicali, Baja California, Norte
    Ghost Whisper to My Lover

    Part 2: Childhood and Other Language Lessons
    Bakersfield, California, 1970–72
    Zacapu, México, 1972–79
    Thermal, California, 1979–80
    Thermal, 1981–82 (Our Little Home on Top of the Garage)
    Summer’s Passage

    Part 3: Adolescent Mariposa
    Ghost Whisper to My Lover
    Indio, 1983–88 ("El Campo" Years)

    Part 4: Zacapu Days and Nights of the Dead
    Summer’s Passage
    Ghost Whisper to My Lover
    Zacapu, July 1990 (Imago)

    Part 5: Unpinned
    Riverside, California
    Ghost Whisper to My Lover


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