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
“Méndez offers a cast of well-drawn characters and lots of darkness. As a young author, the writer doesn’t pretend to forge an illuminating ethos for his people. Instead the stories move characters through the night, show people going through the motions thinking through a fog, gente who, when they make decisions, get it all wrong.” — Em Sedano, La Bloga
“Matt Méndez’s Twitching Heart (Floricanto Press) is an evocative collection of stories set in El Paso that challenges the reader to explore the dynamics of relationships, gender roles, politics and faith. The prose is simple but true, and the stories are suspenseful and often without easy conclusions, which encourage the reader to ponder the layers of meaning in Méndez’s prose.” — Sergio Troncoso, The El Paso Times
“There is much to like and admire in Méndez’s first collection of stories. His fully developed characters and settings bring the reader deep into their world and keep readers wanting more. One can only imagine what will come next.” — Nick Depascal, Tucson Weekly
“Twitching Heart is a collection interested in revealing the human condition, with all its diamonds and blemishes. As David Foster Wallace once said, “Fiction is one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved.” Ultimately, these stories promise the possibility of love and rebirth even in tragedy, despair, and heartache.” — Kindall Gray, Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts
“A Girl More Still”
PANK Magazine : November 2009