Box Car Joy Ride
Gomez, Carlos Rafael
BOX CAR JOY RIDE, 122k words, is a literary fiction, coming-of-age novel about loss, love, and legacy within a Cuban-American family. Narrated by Julian Martínez, Jr., BCJR follows dual timelines set in alternating chapters: the first starts in Revolution-era Cuba and traces Julian’s father’s life from birth in Havana through his career in end-of-life care to his suicide, the night of Julian Jr.’s 18th birthday. The second, interwoven timeline begins a couple months after the suicide, as Julian Jr. leaves home in Charlottesville, Virginia for college, a long-coveted world of wealth and privilege, where he seeks unsuccessfully an adult identity separate from that of his father. As we learn about Julian Sr.'s life—drug addiction, depression, eventually coming out as gay—we see how it informs and interacts with Julian Jr.'s present, jumpstarting an uncomfortable recognition, reexamination, and reckoning with the man Julian Jr. thought he'd laid to rest for good. The novel explores the continued evolution of a relationship post-mortem, touching on themes of mental illness; sexual, ethnic, gender identity; love and class.
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English Language and Literature
M.F.A., English Language and Literature
Master of Fine Arts
dissertation or thesis