University of Wisconsin Press colophon



University of Wisconsin Madison crest that links to main university site

Association of University Presses member logo that links to main AUPresses site



Catalog Archive / Spring 2018

What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth
A Memoir of Brotherhood

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies
David Bergman, Joan Larkin, and Raphael Kadushin, Founding Editors

Finialist in Autobiography, National Book Critics Circle Awards

A bittersweet chronicle of the bond between Latino brothers

Burdened by poverty, illiteracy, and vulnerability as Mexican immigrants to California's Coachella Valley, three generations of González men turn to vices or withdraw into depression. As brothers Rigoberto and Alex grow to manhood, they are haunted by the traumas of their mother's early death, their lonely youth, their father's desertion, and their grandfather's invective. Rigoberto's success in escaping—first to college and then by becoming a writer—is blighted by his struggles with alcohol and abusive relationships, while Alex contends with difficult family relations, his own rocky marriage, and fatherhood.

Descending into a dark emotional space that compromises their mental and physical health, the brothers eventually find hope in aiding each other. This is an honest and revealing window into the complexities of Latino masculinity, the private lives of men, and the ways they build strength under the weight of grief, loss, and despair.

Rigoberto GonzalezRigoberto González is the author of seventeen books of poetry and prose, including the memoirs Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (winner of the American Book Award) and Autobiography of My Hungers. He is a contributing editor for Poets & Writers magazine, serves on the board of trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), and is a professor of English at Rutgers–Newark, the State University of New Jersey.


“A powerful and moving portrait of a complex and troubled family and of memory and regret. González looks back not in anger but with great generosity of spirit.”
—Guillermo Reyes, author of Madre and I

“With gut-wrenching, skin-close honesty, Rigoberto González—already decorated for the stunning achievements of his two previous memoirs—offers a riveting account of the sustaining love between brothers in the midst of raw grief, trauma, and wrenching poverty. The stakes couldn't be higher or the writing more intense. A literary victory.”
—Joy Castro, author of Island of Bones

“By turns, poetic, and gritty, this empowering memoir is a sensitive exploration of displacement, loss and discovery. It redefines and reveals the heart and soul of today‚Äôs immigrants. Bravo!”



Download Cover: color | b/w

Download Author Photo: color | b/w

Request Review Copy

Request Exam Copy


What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth: cover art of an illustration of a nude man with a pink flower in his mouth. He lies at the bottom of the image, surrounded by flowering vines. Above him is a pink block taking up the top two-thirds of the image, containing the title text as well as a large illustration of a hummingbird.

Larger images

March 2018
LC: 2017042900 PS
208 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

Book icon
Cloth $24.95
ISBN 9780299316907
Shopping cart

Review Cart