"Uncle Rock"
by Dagoberto Gilb
Originally published in the May 10, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.
Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.

Click for a larger image.

This story surprised me. I didn’t think, at first, that I would like it. The narrative closely follows the consciousness of the eleven-year-old Erick, as he follows his mother, a Mexican immigrant, from man to man to man. Then, it suddenly became much more than an immigrant or a child’s perspective story. The story quickly becomes a child’s perspective of a parent flailing to meet aspirations in a brutal America that doesn’t seem to recognize the American Dream.

The narrative opens when Erick is ordering his favorite American food. We then get a very nice passage that moves Erick from one man’s life to another, to free food if the man works in that industry, to a free TV if the man works there, etc. Soon we are at a Phillies baseball game (where we learn the story takes place sometime during Pete Rose’s tenure there, so 1979 to 1983) and Erick has caught a homerun ball. There is something tragic and empowering at the end, and it’s definitely worth thinking about both events.

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By |2016-06-09T17:11:03-04:00May 3rd, 2010|Categories: Dagoberto Gilb, New Yorker Fiction|Tags: |2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Joe May 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I generally like stories that are told from a child’s point of view and this was definitely one of my favorites of the year.

    One thing that immediately occurred to me: I wonder about the timing of the story, what with the recent anti-immigration law that was passed in Arizona. Was this story waiting in the wings at the New Yorker and moved up to the front of the line?

    In any case, I enjoyed the observations (“He didn’t have a buzzcut like the men who didn’t like kids.”) and how the story eventually comes to be set in a particular baseball era. I’d like to read more by this author.

  2. Trevor Berrett May 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    My thoughts are posted above. I agree with Joe that this one was one of the better stories of the year. I enjoyed its look at the promise of America to a young single mother — and what she is desired for, shown in the nice scene after a Phillies game.

    I’m interested in peoples’ thoughts on the ending.

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