Gay Latino novelist visits Pronto! in Royal Oak

By BTL Staff

FERNDALE - Novelist Carlos Mock, author of "Borrowing Time: A Latino Sexual Odyssey," will visit the Detroit area for a book reading and signing event on Monday, May 3 at Pronto in Royal Oak. The event is free, and is sponsored by La Comunidad, P-FLAG-Latino Detroit, and Hermanos de Corazon.

"Borrowing Time" provides a glimpse of the different manifestations of AIDS: the fear, the shame, the regrets and the final victory. Although "Borrowing Time" is a work of fiction, the story vaguely resembles Carlos' biography. "The book is sort of like an alter-ego of me," he said, noting that it was pseudo-autobiographical.

A flight of fancy and imagination, the tale follows Juan from grade school sexual investigations through his first gay sexual encounter and on to the possible end of his life.ÊChicago Sun-Times columnist Laura S. Washington calls the book "a vivid and visceral portrayal of a sexual and political coming-of-age in today's America."

"Borrowing Time" has been called one of the first and most important portrayals of gay Latino culture in America. Mock said he believes his book helps fill a void. "One of the reasons my publisher wanted to publish it is there is very little out there about Latinos," especially younger Latinos dealing with being gay, he said.

So far the response to "Borrowing Time" has been largely positive. "It's been very interesting because a lot of people have liked it," he said, "especially when I hear, 'This is exactly me, you captured me when I was coming out.'"

He has gotten some negative feedback as well. "I've had some hate mail," he said. "And unfortunately you never really know if they don't like the book or they don't like that you're a fag."

Mock was living in Michigan when he wrote the book. It was a time when he had more free time than he does now. "So my other half told me, 'Why don't you sit down and write?'" The book was written in Sawyer, Michigan, about 12 miles North of the Indiana border.

Mock said that although he hopes to write more books, writing is not his full time job. "I'm disabled," he said. "So disability is my full time job." He went on disability in 1996 due to HIV.

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a middle class family, Mock felt suffocated under the country's strong Catholic Church influence. As a gay man, he knew he had to leave. "One of the reasons I wanted to leave was because I knew I couldn't deal with it. Unfortunately not everybody can leave," he said. "I left Puerto Rico out of high school and immersed myself in US culture." He said that things are slowly getting better in Puerto Rico. "It is beginning to get better but they are probably where we were in the 1960s," he said.

Mock attended the Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola prep school.ÊUpon graduation, he attended the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and then finished his education at the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan, where he obtained a Doctor in Medicine degree in 1980.

He said he is looking forward to coming back to michigan for the event at Pronto. "I love Michigan. It's beautiful," he said.

One of the most rewarding parts of sharing his book has been the dialog his author appearances inspire. "I've been doing a lot of readings and going to many places and one of the things I like is we actually start talking about what is it like to be Latino and come out."

Mock currently lives in Chicago with Bill Rattan, his partner of four and a half years.

Mock will appear at Pronto, located at 608 S. Washington in downtown Royal Oak, on Monday, May 3 at 7 p.m. Copies of "Borrowing Time" will be available for purchase at the event. For more information call 248-545-1435.

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