This is an okay story, but it’s not something I want to read in The New Yorker. Erick is 11, Mexican, being raised by his hot mother in Silverlake, part of LA. He’s quiet—as in, he doesn’t speak—because men are always, constantly hitting on his mother. At one point he decides that the engineer his mother is seeing—she works for the guy—will be his new father. The guy is rich, owns horses, has a big house. But then it doesn’t work out and Erick is embarrassed.
Then Roque comes around—Uncle Rock, so-called by Erick because he’s told his friend Albert that the engineer will be his new father. Uncle Rock is a steady guy, nice enough, pretends to be interested in baseball for Erick’s sake, and treats Erick’s Mom well enough. Rock takes them to see the Dodgers and the Phillies and in the most thrilling moment of Erick’s life, he catches a homerun ball. As they’re leaving the stadium, a player on the team bus offers to sign the ball, and gets the whole team to do the same, but when he gives it back to Erick he also gives a note that Erick is supposed to pass to his mother, inviting her to the team hotel.
Erick throws the note away, and proudly tells his mother and Rock that the team signed his ball.
End of story. We’re supposed to be moved that Erick has made this choice and has also broken out of his shell, presumably because he thinks Uncle Rock might be okay.
Nice. But not New Yorker material.
May 10, 2010: “Uncle Rock” by Dagoberto Gilb