I am a reader, and I usually have a couple of books at a time on my bedside table. I love crime/mystery/horror fan – and yes, I have read every one of Stephen King’s novels. I also read best sellers, books recommended by friends and whatever else sparks my interest. I just finished reading Victor Villasenor’s memoir, “Burro Genius”. I was so touched that I am compelled to blog about it.
This book was gut-wrenching. Written with unabridged honesty and emotional intensity, it is the personal life story a little Mexican kid raised on a ranch in Carlsbad, California in the 40s and 50s. His unique message is relayed through his childhood experiences — the schools, the barrio, spiritual teachings of his grandmother, the beliefs and work ethic of his parents.
Victor was a gifted and imaginative child who coped with a learning disability that went undiagnosed until he was 44 years old. He survived beatings by his teachers, punished for speaking Spanish in class, ostracized by his classmates, and called a “dirty, lying Mexican”. In his memoir, he passes on the knowledge for “creating a brave new self with honor and respect”.
Victor had always wanted to be a writer. He had tons of manuscripts that were never published. Burro Genius took him 22 years to write. His book dedication explains his message better than I ever could.
“This book is dedicated to Ramon and the guys from Posole Town, Oceanside, and to all boys and girls of the whole world who went to school with laughter in their eyes, warmth in their hearts, kindness in this souls, and then were systematically “broken” of their spirit – their genius, but here and there, some were able to refind that spirit because of an angel-teacher who helped give them back their wings. To these brave souls, both students and teachers, I dedicate this book.”
An interesting title “Burro Genius”. Read the book to find out what it means to the author. Read the book to find out what perseverance really means, how frustration turns to determination, overcoming seemingly impossible odds leads to victory and pride.
In October 2019, Victor Villasenor spoke at my local library and signed copies of “Burro Genius”. I was away on vacation, so I missed his presentation. I so wished I had been there, but I thank my dear friend Charlene for giving me this autographed copy for Christmas. This is a story I will not soon forget.
Villansenor has now published 7 books and a screenplay. He was recently selected as the founding chair of the John Steinbeck Foundation. He is considered one of the premier writers of our time. He still resides in Oceanside.