El Paso memories: Playwright's book tells stories of childhood along the border - Albuquerque Journal

El Paso memories: Playwright’s book tells stories of childhood along the border

Author Octavio Solis will sign and read from his book “Retablos: Stories From a Life Lived Along the Border.” (Courtesy of Anne Hamersky)

Octavio Solis remembers what it was like growing up a “skinny brown kid” in El Paso.

Today, he lives in rural Oregon, and he has established himself as one of the leading Latin playwrights in the country.

But it’s the stories, growing up in the borderland, that inspired his book “Retablos: Stories From a Life Lived Along the Border.”

“I grew up a half-mile from the border with Mexico,” he says. “Each retablo is quite personal. As a playwright, I try not to be autobiographical. With this book, I went for it.”

Solis will make a stop in Albuquerque at Bookworks on Monday, Oct. 28. He will read from the book and sign it.

The book has been out for nearly a year. He’s been featured in many major newspapers and chronicled for a piece on “PBS NewsHour” – all of which he can’t comprehend sometimes.

“It was very hard for me,” he says of writing the stories in the book. “I started writing them almost 10 years ago. I would write them one at a time. They started slowly coming to me. It was a surreal experience.”

Solis wrote the entire book in present tense, though each is a story from his past.

“It was a first-person perspective,” he says. “It was me living in my childhood. With that step, everything became more immediate. I removed it layer by layer.”

Solis remembers the cable cars and streetcars that he used to take into Juárez with his grandmother.

He would often take the bus from his house to see movies – especially horror films – at the Plaza Theatre, the Capri Theater and the Palace Theater.

“The city is slowly reviving a lot of these old places from my childhood,” he says. “The streetcars are back, and people are riding them, not just tourists. Actual El Pasoans are using them. It’s great to see that.”

Solis’ talk at Bookworks will also consist of a conversation with Erik Ehn, a playwright who teaches at the University of New Mexico.

“We co-wrote a play together called ‘Shiner,’ and it was produced by the Undermain Theatre in Dallas,” Solis says. “I seldom co-write with others. Working with Erik was something magical. I’m pleased he is in Albuquerque now. He should have always been in the Southwest.”

Home » News » Southern NM and the Border » El Paso memories: Playwright’s book tells stories of childhood along the border


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
'Chocolate: The Exhibition' brings the history of the bean ...
Entertainment
After its run in Albuquerque, the ... After its run in Albuquerque, the exhibit will begin to travel the state, with its first stop in Hobbs at the Western Heritage Museum.
2
Zu Hot Pot brings the interactive dining experience back ...
Dining Reviews
Hot pot cooking traces its roots ... Hot pot cooking traces its roots back a thousand years to Mongolia, where horseman reputedly used their helmets as pots for cooking meat in ...
3
Safe House Distilling Co. unveils canned vodka cocktail with ...
Blogs
The canned line has extended to ... The canned line has extended to its Green Chile Bloody Mary, as well as its collaborations with the Albuquerque Isotopes that include its Teller ...
4
'Tosca,' 'Flying Dutchman' to open Santa Fe Opera 2023 ...
Arts
The Santa Fe Opera's 2023 season ... The Santa Fe Opera's 2023 season features a bouquet of new productions of classic operas spiced with a 2024 world premiere. Puccini's 'Tosca' and ...
5
World War II epic 'Wolf Hound' now available on-demand
Blogs
'Wolf Hound' features action sequences using ... 'Wolf Hound' features action sequences using vintage aircraft.
6
What’s happening in ABQ June 24-30: Zoo Music, New ...
Coming This Week
With July around the corner, let's ... With July around the corner, let's see if the rain keeps up this summer
7
Relationship dramedy 'For The Love of Jason' returns for ...
Entertainment
The new season explores Jason's (Trell ... The new season explores Jason's (Trell Woodberry) journey facing the obstacles of becoming an entrepreneur and building a co-parenting relationship with Carmen (K
8
Inaugural Albuquerque Contemporary Dance Festival will run June 30-July ...
Dance
The event will include dance performances, ... The event will include dance performances, classes and film.
9
Street photographer brings Downtown Albuquerque into focus
Arts
516 Arts to host 'Nathaniel Tetsuro ... 516 Arts to host 'Nathaniel Tetsuro Paolinelli: Downtown' through Sept. 3.
10
Basilaris Trio to play at Thirsty Eye Brewing on ...
Entertainment
The band took its name from ... The band took its name from the plant, which is a cactus. They describe their music being beautiful with an edge.