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Veronica Gonzalez Peña

Veronica Gonzalez is the coeditor of Juncture: 25 Very Good Stories and 12 Excellent Drawings and the founder of rockypoint Press, a series of artist-writer collaborations produced in association with 1301PE Gallery. twin time, her first novel, won her the 2007 Premio Aztlán Literary Prize.

Titles by This Author

Told by six women in one family, Veronica Gonzalez Pena’s The Sad Passions captures the alertness, beauty, and terror of childhood lived in proximity to madness. Set against the backdrop of a colonial past, spanning three generations, and shuttling from Mexico City to Oaxaca to the North Fork of Long Island to Veracruz, The Sad Passions is the lyrical story of a middle-class Mexican family torn apart by the undiagnosed mental illness of Claudia, a lost child of the 1960s and the mother of four little girls.

It is 1960, and the wild and impulsive sixteen-year-old Claudia elopes from her comfortable family home in Mexico City with Miguel, a seductive drifter who will remain her wandering husband for the next twenty years. Hitchhiking across the United States with Miguel, sometimes spending the night in jails, Claudia stops sleeping and begins seeing visions. Abandoned at a small clinic in Texas, she receives electroshock treatment while seven months pregnant with her first daughter. Afterward, Miguel leaves her, dumb and drooling, at her mother’s doorstep.

Living more often at her mother’s home than with Miguel, Claudia will give birth to four girls. But when Julia, her second daughter, is inexplicably given away to a distant relation in Los Angeles, Claudia’s fragile, uncertain state comes to affect everyone around her. Julia’s disappearance—which could symbolize the destabilizing effect of manic depression—will become the organizing myth in all of the daughters’ unsettled lives; for if one can disappear, why not all of them?

or, how death befell me

veronica_gonzalez.jpg... as I poured my father's ashes into a big Ziploc bag, a little of my blood dripped in. I thought about how each cell has all of you fully inscribed in it, so that if I left those drops in there, it would be as if I were already dead too. I plunged in then, to try and get myself out, but it was all so sticky that I had to give up; when I pulled out my hand, parts of my father were stuck all over it ...
—from twin time

Poetic, sensuous and witty, Veronica Gonzalez's debut novel unfolds like a fairy tale spanning the dusty hills of Los Angeles and the glittering nightlife of Mexico City. Raised in northeast LA by her widowed immigrant father, a baker, Mona has grown up believing her mother died minutes after her birth, and her twin brother was simply given away. Stifled by unnamable doubts as a child, when her father dies, Mona sets off on a quest to discover her long-lost twin brother. The journey takes he into the labyrinth of her own fabulations about her parents' lives, and a dreamy Mexico City that exists only as cultural imagination. In the process she encounters a band of Nordic men, her Chinese double, a lascivious giant, and a tribe of feral children. Gonzalez masterfully probes the oddness of Mona's interior world until it becomes a twisted parable for all kinds of displacement.