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Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  422 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Rodriguez's acclaimed first book, Hunger of Memory raised a fierce controversy with its views on bilingualism and alternative action. Now, in a series of intelligent and candid essays, Rodriguez ranges over five centuries to consider the moral and spiritual landscapes of Mexico and the US and their impact on his soul.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published November 1st 1992)
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Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Brown people (Everyone)
Recommended to Tanya by: Melody Graulich
This is a short discussion essay I wrote in Spring 2007 regarding this book:

What if I Am You?:
Cultural Hybridity in Richard Rodriguez’s Days of Obligation

Tanya Collings

What if we are not diverse? What if I feel myself becoming like you? What does that mean? What if I find myself weeping reading your story? What if I find myself walking like you do? What if I find myself singing your songs?
-Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez’s desire for a common culture—along with his stance on affirmative
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In this and his other collection of personal essays, "Hunger of Memory," Richard Rodriguez describes how becoming an American has been an experience much like Alice's trip through the looking glass. It has distanced him from his Mexican-born parents and separated him almost entirely from his Mexican roots. The central idea running through many of these thoughtful, earnest essays is a heightened awareness of the differences between our public and private lives. They also focus on the impact of ...more
Jan 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, americans, memoir
Rodriguez can come off as professionally broody, a tad too solemn in his meditative pose--those clipped, oracular sentences--but he is a unique stylist and a master of the ruminative-reminiscent personal essay, his chosen mode. 'Late Victorians' is my favorite thing in this book: a collage of affecting anecdotes and musings that coheres into something artful, profound, and exquisitely sad; it strikes me as the best piece he's written.
Aurora Dimitre
I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would--Rodriguez is a phenomenal essayist, and I really liked how well all of this tied together, how well it all worked, and how well it was written. I know that's a little repetitive, but it really cannot be overstated how good of a writer Rodriguez was. I really liked looking at his personal experience with being sort of caught in the middle of American culture and Mexican culture, what was taken from both, what should have been taken from both, how ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rodriguez writes a rambling, insightful and interesting work

Published by Blackstone Audio in 2008
Duration: 8 hours, 14 minutes

I first learned of Richard Rodriguez on C-Span's Booknotes program. He was an invited guest of First Lady Laura Bush to speak at an author's fair that she started hosting in Texas while she was the First Lady of Texas. Rodriguez was promoting his book Brown at the the time and I thought his observations were wonderful.

Days of Obligations is in a similar vein, but not
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
My god, the language. Many of the critiques against him are probably true--that he is conservative, curmudgeonly, self-loathing, everyone-loathing, elitist--but the language is so hypnotizing and the nuanced and well-informed and I don't care. Haunting to read in January 2017. I can't pull many quotes because they are surrounded by so much context, but here is one:

"If I am a newcomer to your country...I need to know about seventeenth century Puritans in order to make sense of the rebellion I
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Closer to poetry than prose. Even if I often don't agree with Rodriguez's arguments, his writing is precise and brave, and he makes unexpected connections. I wish the chapter 'Asians' had been available to my immigrant parents before they had me. Beautiful, thoughtful, melancholic.
David Groves
Sep 07, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is bad writing on so many levels.

I'm a half-Mexican reader who is researching his roots, and was given this book as a gift. I'm also a former journalist, so I know what good writing looks like. This doesn't even come close. Starting just with the sentences themselves, he tends to be purposely obscure and oblique, avoiding making points. You read his prose several times before it makes even partial sense, and it's not because the author is some limitless genius, it's because he doesn't know
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is a series of essays in which the author juxtaposes various aspects of Mexico and America and then offers his interpretations of their meanings. My basic problem with that is that I disagreed with his interpretations frequently.

He seems to feel a strong need to find his own place in the world by dredging up the worst parts of history and laying some kind of personal claim to them even though he has in no way experienced them himself.

This is all done with a great deal of literary
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots if history I didn't know. Was interesting how Rodriguez compared and contrasted Mexico with the U. S. Then he tied the compare and contrast to remembering and provided the reader with a memoir.
May 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Maria by: Dr. Marit MacArthur
Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of this book is that it is a collection of essays Richard Rodriguez wrote and then collected into one text under the unified theme of the title he chose. It takes a while to identify the recurring themes, and tease out the central points he is making. This is compounded by the frequent references to people a contemporary reader may not be familiar with. This book was originally published almost twenty years ago and I felt like I needed to have a cheat ...more
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Richard Rodriguez, Ree-car-do, as Father Huerta calls him, has written numerous essays chronicling his struggle to make sense of himself as an “American” of Mexican descent. Rodriguez’s essays are a skillful balance of the personal and the historical. In Days of Obligation, Rodriguez beautifully documents his dilemma. It is his liminality, his hovering unsteadily between two fixed states that Rodriguez articulates in this collection of essays. As he travels the United States and Mexico, this ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Richard Rodriguez is a vey enlightening writer for Hispanics to read. Perhaps THE only one worth remembering. Like many of popular Hispanic writers he tackles the confusion, discovery and self-hatred of what it is to be an educated person straddling multiple cultures and subcultures. However, this is not what makes him worthwhile. If all he did was narrate an unexamined cultural vocabulary, he would be of no more transcendence than Julia Avarez playing into US identity politics and labels. ...more
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
This great essayist displays his understanding for what it means to be a person of mixed heritage in a country of absolutes. Separated from its southern neighbor in both mind and space--nationalistic, cultural supremacy and the U.S.-Mexican border--America for Rodriguez is the land of failed promises, whether it's the eponymous "dream" or the over-simplified melting pot descriptor.

Yet, this work is not concerned with criticizing America, but rather with getting to the hard questions occupying
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiographies
Even though I get the points of Richard Rodriguez, this book is beyond my interest. I cannot relate to his essays on Tijuana and other buzz words unless I look them up in Wikepedia as though I read sheer historical information on Mexico’s sovereignty. Besides, I mistook the title of the book for his difficulties in coming out to his father. (The title turns out to be related to the relationship between America and Mexico.) So it took me a few days to finish it since I do not want to get into the ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: migrants
Beautifully written and controversial, but for me it read as a collection of essays rather than an "argument with my Mexican father." Rodriguez has profound things to say about the experiences of second-generation immigrants from Mexico, but the collection also treats AIDS in '80's San Francisco, the pseudo-history and -romance of the California missions, Asians as minorities, even the educational system. His basic premise is that the "melting pot" destroys identity, that the United States has ...more
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Days of Obligation is like no other collection of essays I've come upon. Rodriquez is an incredible stylist, juxtaposing contrasts and opposing viewpoints to fashion thoughts that are at times contradictory but always food for thought. One of my favorite moments is his conclusion that because he lived in a Chinese neighborhood, he was as much Chinese as American. His essays are not linear in the least and contain historical references woven into his personal thoughts. While he is on a continuous ...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
I really liked this book. Richard Rodriguez is a Mexican American and the book covers a lot of different topics about the area around the border between the US and Mexico. Even though this book was written almost 20 years ago, a lot of the topics are still pertinent today.

My favorite chapters are about Tijuana, the Castro district in San Fran and the Missions of Southern California. All these chapters discuss the clash between American and Mexican culture. Definitely a good read for anyone that
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, america
The first couple of these essays are something of a slog - some interesting ideas that are made somewhat impenetrable with layers of kind of overblown florid language and metaphor.

"Absence shot through opalescent tugs of semen to deflower the city."

Ummm. Yeah.

Anyway, after the first two or three, the writing got much more settled down and therefore readable. And then it became clear that there was actually some rather interesting things that Rodriguez has to say about America, about being an
Oct 12, 2007 rated it liked it
A book of lyrical whining, a style he makes almost beautiful though I wouldn't want others to try it. He remains honest about the experiences of first-generation Americans, the allure of the States, the sacrifices of our parents, the tightrope we walk. His analysis of California is right on: its denial of history's import, it is Greek comedy, it as a perpetual renewal of reality. Mr Rodriguez's honesty sets him apart from almost all cultural writers, I just wish he would do more than whine.
Nicolas Shump
Jan 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Rodriguez's second book and a better one than the first in my opinion. This has a larger focus as it covers Mexico, but still maintains his autobiographical frame.
Rodriguez also comes out as a gay man in this book, though he has always thought his sexuality was evident in his first book. Not to me it wasn't.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Never heard of Rodriguez until I picked this up at a book store on Saltspring Island. It was great. He writes with a very heavy hand—there's not a lot of lightness in the book. But it's very illuminating on a number of topics, particularly the now and then of Mexican Americanism.
May 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
He floated too much here. Some really good passages, but somewhat far apart. I don't know - didn't click with much of his style, but I definitely liked some of the family stuff, esp. his Indian uncle.
Deb W
Mar 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zune
Another Brysonesque (long, meandering written work filled with moderately interesting tidbits of useless information) without the humor. I think Rodriguez might better have saved most of it for his analyst's couch. No obligation noted, no argument... much ado of nothing worthy.
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books I thought I'd never have to read because Rodriguez's politics are so frequently discussed. But I found his voice and form equally compelling--his writing has an almost serpentine quality to it.
May 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
I really did not enjoy this book. The author was far from coherent and just full of self aggrandizing comments while simultaneously making derogatory comments about (almost) everyone else and everything, especially other Mexicans. Has he ever heard of the idea of self-contempt?
JP Villalobos
May 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Being Mexican-American a must read to find one's true identity.
Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Richard Rodriguez is an amazing master of language. He is amazing at weaving a sociological and cultural study of being Mexican American with beautiful, well structured language.
C.J. Prince
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I sometimes tend to get stuck in a genre. However, it is windows opening to other points of view that enrich my life beyond expectation. This one fits in that category.
this books is controbercial. There are some parts of the book that feel extremely biased or racist...
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Richard Rodríguez is an American writer who became famous as the author of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodríguez (1982). His work has appeared in Harper's, The American Scholar, the Los Ángeles Times Magazine, and The New Republic. Richard's awards include the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the International Journalism Award from the World Affairs ...more
“Human unhappiness is evidence of our immortality.” 5 likes
“By the waters of baptism, the active European was entirely absorbed within the contemplation of the Indian. The faith that Europe imposed in the sixteenth century was, by virtue of the Guadalupe, embraced by the Indian. Catholicism has become an Indian religion. By the twenty-first century, the locus of the Catholic Church, by virtue of numbers, will be Latin America, by which time Catholicism itself will have assumed the aspect of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
Brown skin.”
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