Sometimes the border is a mirror, sometimes an escape, and sometimes it's just the bridge you cross to go home.
Benjamin Alire Sàenz's stories reveal how all borders entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It's a touchstone for each of Sáenz's stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Sáenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair. It's a place of rich history and good drinks and cold beer and a long polished mahogany bar. Some days it smells like piss. "I'm going home to the other side." That's a strange statement, but you hear it all the time at the Kentucky Club.
Click here to listen to Ben on Words on a Wire where he talks short stories, addiction, and of course, the Kentucky Club, plus hear an excerpt from "The Hurting Game."
Benjamin Alire Sàenz is a highly regarded Latino writer of fiction, poetry, and childrenÍs literature. Like these stories, his writing crosses borders and lands in our collective psyche. Poets & Writers Magazine named him one of the 50 most inspiring writers in the world. He was the first Latino to win the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, and has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN Center's prestigious award for young adult fiction. Sàenz previously served chair of the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.