Dispatches From Puerto Nowhere (FORTHCOMING)
a memoir by
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"A masterpiece clear and honest and alive to the world and its contradictions. Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere will hit you where live."
—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
That I was born Puerto Rican was happenstance, but that I have no connection to what it means is no accident. My grandparents made conscious decisions and so did my father as part of the first generation born here in the States. And none of it bothered me until recently, which is probably why I can’t quite put my finger on any of this. I’m still grappling with what I’ve lost and how I can miss something I’ve never had.
Robert Lopez’s grandfather Sixto was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 1904, immigrating to the United States in the 1920s, where he lived in a racially proportioned apartment complex in East New York, Brooklyn, until his death in 1987. The family’s efforts to assimilate within their new homeland led to the near complete erasure of their heritage, culture, and language within two generations.
Little is known of Sixto—he may have been a longshoreman, a painter, or a boxer, but was most likely a longshoreman—or why he originally decided to leave Puerto Rico, other than that he was a meticulously slow eater who played the standup keyboard and guitar, and enjoyed watching baseball. Through family recollection, the constant banter volleyed across nets within Brooklyn’s diverse tennis community, as well as an imagined fabulist history drawn from Sixto’s remembered traits, in Dispatches From Puerto Nowhere: An American Story of Assimilation and Erasure, Robert Lopez paints a compassionate portrait of family that attempts to bridge the past to the present, and re-claim a heritage threatened by assimilation and erasure.
"Armed with little more than a lifetime of questions, one of this country's best sentence-making minds, and the twelfth most popular surname in the United States, Robert Lopez embarks on a journey of self-discovery and winds up with the heart of America in his hands: peculiar, beautiful, inspiring, sad."
—John D'Agata, author of Halls of Fame, About a Mountain, and The Lifespan of a Fact
"One day, some twenty years ago, I took a class with Robert Lopez; I'd heard he was the real thing. This man will teach you about sentences, a friend said, and he did. I've been reading, admiring and learning from his work ever since. Now he's written a masterpiece clear and honest and alive to the world and its contradictions. Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere will hit you where live."
—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
"Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere is a deceptively subversive book, full of insights and humor and a level of honest examination (both of racism and of the author himself) that is rare. Lopez writes in distilled bursts, each labelled 'Dispatch from…' (A Better Moment; Something Irretrievable; It’s Now or Never, etc), as if he wasn’t standing right beside us, murmuring these complicated truths in our ears, but beaming them in from some distant, forgotten past. He carries the weight of this past, yet it does not crush him. Or—thankfully, beautifully—us."
—Nick Flynn, author of This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire, The Ticking is the Bomb, and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
"Robert Lopez’s Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere is somewhere between a speculative memoir, a mostly unresolved detective story, and a meditation on learning to play tennis. That it’s none and all of these things—and more—is its particular genius. It’s the wondering and the wandering, the speculation and the narration, the knowing and the not knowing, the life and the tennis, the death and the tennis, and the quick footwork between them that’s so powerful here. As Lopez says after his friend was murdered by the police, 'The trouble with the end of the world is what to do the day after.' What are you going to do? Do what you always do: think, talk, eat too fast, grieve, live, read, write, play tennis."
—Ander Monson, author of The Gnome Stories and I Will Take the Answer
“For many years, Robert Lopez has been among the most singular writers of American fiction; now he turns the unique precision of his voice and his vision toward himself and his family history. Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere is a masterful work of nonfiction."
—Matt Bell, author of Appleseed
Praise for Robert Lopez:
“Lopez has the ability to give the reader whiplash with his unconventional and bewitching stories.”
—Karolina Waclawiak, author of How to Get into the Twin Palms and The Invaders, on Good People
“Robert Lopez is the master of deadpan dread, of the elliptical koan, of the sudden turn of language that reveals life to be so wonderfully absurd. Always with Lopez, the voice is all his—enchanting, surprising, at times devastating.”
—Jess Walter, author of The Cold Millions and Beautiful Ruins
"Robert Lopez is one of the most exciting writers working today.”
—Jenny Offill, author of Weather and Dept. of Speculation, on A Better Class of People
“Robert Lopez’s strange, incantatory, visionary stories reveal the mysteries behind the ordinary world.”
—Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply and Stay Awake
“Nobody else does whatever the hell it is [Lopez]’s doing better than he does.”
—Justin Taylor, author of Riding with the Ghost, in BOMB Magazine
“Robert Lopez does amazing things with prose, tone, and sparsity.”
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn, on Good People
“For my money, there are few writers who can do voice better than Robert Lopez, and few who can evoke so much of a world in so few words.”
—Blake Butler, author of Three Hundred Million
Robert Lopez is the author of three novels, Part of the World, All Back Full, and Kamby Bolongo Mean River — named one of 25 important books of the decade by HTML Giant, and two story collections, Asunder and Good People. A new novel-in-stories, A Better Class Of People, will be published by Dzanc Books in March 2022. Dispatches from Puerto Nowhere, his first nonfiction book, will be published by Two Dollar Radio in September 2022. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has appeared in dozens of publications, including Bomb, The Threepenny Review, Vice Magazine, New England Review, The Sun, and the Norton Anthology of Sudden Fiction – Latino. He teaches at Stony Brook University and has previously taught at Columbia University, The New School, Pratt Institute, and Syracuse University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Visit his website here: robertlopez.net
Visit the Robert Lopez author page for additional details and interviews.
TERRITORY: U.S. + Canada sales only
FORMAT: Hardback (Paper-over-board)
LIST PRICE: $24.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387240
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387257
RELEASE DATE: 3/14/2023
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).