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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Author shares his stories with NE Campus students

By Dena Adi and Ashley Gomez

Although entranced in the idea of telling stories, Oscar Casares believed the demographic, or “myth,” that authors consisted of rich fathers and fortunate upbringings.

“My biography held nothing like that whatsoever,” he told a NE audience last week. “I started something I knew nothing about. I didn’t listen to [the myth] too long.”

Oscar Casares
Photo courtesy Marsha Miller

A native of Brownsville, a Texas border town, Casares spoke to about 120 students and faculty as part of the NE English department’s Living Literature series March 23-24.

Casares didn’t start writing until he reached his 30s, beginning his career in advertising, where he remained for nine years. Since then, he has written Brownsville, a collection of stories, and Amigoland, a novel.

Casares began the readings with one of the stories from Brownsville.

Casares said his life there influenced the characters he portrayed in the book. “R.G.” was about a man who lent his hammer to his neighbor. After years went by without the hammer’s return, tension built up between the two.

R.G. couldn’t understand why his neighbor didn’t show the consideration that R.G. showed in doing him the favor. The story concludes with R.G., years later, helping the neighbor, whom he hadn’t spoken to since the incident, nail boards to his house to prepare for an approaching hurricane.

When asked about his inspiration for writing that story, Casares said oftentimes neighbors, even close friends, let the simplest of things come between them. It isn’t until misfortunes come about that reconciliation happens.

“Tragedies fix wounds,” he said. “[You] forget why someone was mad in the first place.”

Casares also read an excerpt from Amigoland. The main character, Don Fidencio, is prematurely placed in a nursing home after he survives a stroke.

During the question-and-answer session, Casares explained how he became the writer that he did.

“I have always been interested in mythologies and how they get interpreted over time,” he said. “But the biggest challenge of writing this novel was actually trying to write the story itself while trying to be a war correspondent.”

Casares said he was trying to find his 90-year-old father a nursing home when he got the idea to write Amigoland.

“My biggest fear was that this novel would become a sentimental story when all I wanted to do was make my first break,” he said. “I was thinking in the back of my mind, ‘How am I going to tell the publisher that my first novel takes place in a nursing home?’”

The book he described as a “depressing” tale with humorous moments received good reviews and recognition.

Casares said he was inspired by his family of storytellers growing up.

“I was fixated by something about the way they could weave these tales,” he said.

Casares also teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin. He said he hopes to convey to his readers and students the same emotions he felt when he would listen to his uncles tell stories.

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