Review by Rox Burkey
Deer Dancer is classified as a Hispanic American Literature / Fiction. It is definitely a period piece in Meso-American history that recounts a class struggle between the Yoris and the Yaquis. While it is set in days gone by, it could easily be adapted to any time period that pits an underdog indigenous people against a cruel, hostile invader. I liked the character development of Cheve who laments his facial disfigurement making him an outcast among the Yaquis. And yet it is that disfigurement that helps him cultivate the mystical powers of his environment. I appreciated the Yaquis mysticism aspects surrounding Maso that was sprinkled throughout the book.
The depth of the story was increased with the multiple story threads that Richard crafts to tell several stories, which ultimately converge into the climactic battle at the close of the book. One can easily envision all the story threads as the well-developed characters arrive at their final destiny. It is not hard to relate to one or more of the characters depicted within this story.
Richard is particularly adept at using imagery, as in this section early in the story, as well as throughout the book.
“Kill that rat,” shouted another horseman.
“Cheve came within a few feet of the rape to see clearly the woman. The corpulent rapist pumped his thighs vigorously. Several Torocoyoris tackled Cheve. One hooked an arm around his neck and jerked his head back. Another jammed a rifle butt repeatedly into his torso. His breath gushed through his mouth as paid wracked his ribs and gut.”
Richard is amazing at capturing scenes of conflict, where one-on-one battles between the antagonists and protagonists rage. The descriptions are vivid and draw in the reader immersing them into the battle. While his descriptions of Yoris are particularly unflattering, they are extremely rich making the antagonists exceptionally vile.
Richard doesn’t paint the Yaquis completely as flawless saints. He explores their flaws, their poor decisions, and, for some, their betrayals. In other words, he writes no flawless characters. This is truly a gritty read with believable characters as the conflicts grow throughout. The journeys, the fleeing, and the confrontation between these two cultures is an excellent read and worth your time.
Richard J. Gonzales was born in Chicago, Illinois and attended Catholic Parochial schools through the 12th grade. His family moved to Texas in 1969, the birthplace of his father, Joseph Gonzales. Richard married in 1972 and has two children.
He attended one year of Loyola University and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington, majoring in English with a History minor. He founded the Association of Mexican American Students in 1970 at UTA.
The U.S. Army drafted Richard in 1972, serving two years. He received an honorable discharge. After his service, he enrolled in UTA graduate school of social work and graduated in 1977 with an M.S.S.W. He is a licensed master social worker.
Richard’s interests include reading, writing fiction and non-fiction and running marathons. He led a successful community effort to convince the Tarrant County Commissioners to name a paid county holiday for Cesar Chavez in 2001.
He is a member of the Tarrant County Cesar Chavez Committee, DFW Writers Workshop, and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Arlington, Texas.
He is bilingual (Spanish-English) and a wicked ping pong player. Learn more about Richard at hsi website or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org