You Can’t Be Mexican

Mendez, Frank S.  You Can’t Be Mexican: You Talk Just Like Me. Kent, Ohio; The Kent State University Press, 2005.

Kent State University Press began the Voices of Diversity series with Mendez’s memoir You Can’t Be Mexican.  One of the purposes of this series is to make available new and previously published memoirs of the immigrant experience in Northeast Ohio.  There should be plenty of material for this series as this part of the state at one time was one of the most diverse areas in the country in regard to first generation immigrants.  My one fear for a series like this is that it will tread to heavy in the sentimental.

Luckily (for me) Mendez does not dwell too much on nostalgia in this brief memoir, which follows his father’s political exodus from Mexico into Post-WWI Texas, to Mendez’s impoverished childhood in Lorain, through his later military and professional career (he spent 30 years working in the Panama Canal Zone).  Mendez, an engineer by trade, has created a compelling narrative that is minimal and stripped of emotion often seen in classic immigrant/coming of age narratives. Continue reading