An Incomplete List of Names

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-10-06
  • Publisher: Beacon Pr

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An astonishing debut collection looking back on a community of Mexican American boys as they grapple with assimilation versus the impulse to create a world of their own.

Who do we belong to? This is the question Michael Torres ponders as he explores the roles that names, hometown, language, and others’ perceptions each play on our understanding of ourselves in An Incomplete List of Names. More than a boyhood ballad or a coming-of-age story, this collection illuminates the artist’s struggle to make sense of the disparate identities others have forced upon him.

His description of his childhood is both idyllic and nightmarish, sometimes veering between the two extremes, sometimes a surreal combination of both at once. He calls himself “the Pachuco’s grandson” or REMEK or Michael, depending on the context, and others follow his lead. He worries about losing his identification card, lest someone mistake his brown skin for evidence of a crime he never committed. He wonders what his students—imprisoned men who remind him of his high school friends and his own brother—make of him. He wonders how often his neighbors think about where he came from, if they ever do imagine where he came from.

When Torres returns to his hometown to find the layers of spray-painted evidence he and his boyhood friends left behind to prove their existence have been washed away by well-meaning municipal workers, he wonders how to collect a list of names that could match the eloquent truths those bubbled letters once secured.

Author Biography

Michael Torres was born and brought up in Pomona, CA, where he spent his adolescence as a graffiti artist. In 2019, he received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Loft Literary Center for the Mirrors & Windows Program. His writing has been featured in POETRY, Ploughshares, and other literary journals. Currently, he teaches in the MFA program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. Connect with Michael at michaeltorreswriter.com.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Raquel Salas Rivera

Doing Donuts in an ’87 Mustang 5.0, after My Homie Chris Gets Broken Up With

All-American Mexican

Hired as Professional Mourner at Funeral

The Pachuco’s Grandson Smokes His First Cigarette after Contemplating Masculinity

The Flame

Minutes, at the Health Clinic

Learning to Box

[Mexican] America

On Being REMEK

Down | I



The Very Short Story of Your Knuckles

Teaching at the Prison in December

The Pachuco’s Grandson Considers Skipping School

Because My Brother Knows Why It’s Called County Blues, but Won’t Tell Me

After José Clemente Orozco’s Man of Fire

Down | II

[White] America

My Brother Is Asking for Stamps

All-American Mexican

Suspended from School, the Pachuco’s Grandson Watches Happy Days While His Homie Fulfills Prophecy

Stop Looking at My Last Name Like That

Down | III

After the Man Who Found Me Doing Burpees at the Park Said: “I Can Tell You Learned Those on the Inside.”

Ars Poetica

My Hometown as a Man Riding a Bicycle with No Chain

My Neighbor Who Keeps the Dying Things


Elegy with Puppet Strings

From My Classroom Window at the Prison, before Students Arrive

The Pachuco’s Grandson Considers the Silversun Pickups’ Album Diana Lent Him When They Last Spoke Seven Years Ago


All-American Mexican

Elegy with Roll Call


Acknowledgments, Thank-Yous, and Shout-Outs

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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