Twitching Heart

In a remarkable debut, Matt Mendez writes beautifully crafted stories, creating characters with clarity and worlds that are full, rich, and powerful.

This is exactly how a winning debut should read—fluid and raw, redemptive and inevitable.  Underneath the humor runs a gifted storyteller’s nuanced take on the paradox of the outsider.  A triumphant first swing from one of the new stars in the next generation of Chicano lit.

Manuel Muñoz, author of What You See in the Dark

Mendez’s stories emerge out of the gritty and working-class barrios of El Paso.  At times gesturing towards the magical realism south of the border, his characters struggle to carve out a piece of the “American Dream,” but the difficulties they endure often leave them speechless.  This is where Mendez’s strength as a writer is most visible.  While his characters struggle to find the right words, he does not.  His prose is restrained, his metaphors apt, and his details are damn near perfect.  The desert might be unforgiving, but Mendez is able to impart a degree of grace into his stories without resorting to sentimentality.  One of the sharpest young writers in the Southwest, he gives voice to a region that has remained on the periphery of American literature for far too long.  His will be a career to watch closely.

–D. Seth Horton, Series Editor, New Stories from the Southwest and Series Co-Editor, Best of the West: New Stories from the Wide Side of the Missouri

El Paso is at the center of the new map of the West. Matt Mendez writes from, and about, Chuco’s heart.

–Dagoberto Gilb, author of Before the End, After the Beginning

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