Richard Rodriguez is one of my favorite writers. I know his views on Affirmative Action and bilingual education are controversial, but these are not the reasons why I like him. (Although I do think he gives us a lot to think about on both of these issues). I have been a Richard Rodriguez fan ever since I read Hunger of Memory. This book put into words what I have always felt as a first-generation college student from a lower-middle class background–the exhilaration of learning and ambition and the sense of loss that comes with it. His chapter on Roman Catholicism is one of the best pieces of religious writing I have ever read. Since I assign this book in my Immigrant America course, I have had the privilege of reading it many times. We are currently in the midst of discussing it in that class.
I recently learned, thanks to John Wilson at Books and Culture, that Rodriguez spoke at the Calvin College Festival of Faith & Writing. I hope that his talk might appear on-line at some point.
If you are a Rodriguez fan and could not be at Calvin College last week, I would encourage you to listen to this 2003 commencement address that he delivered at Kenyon College in Ohio. It is outstanding and inspirational. It is only about 20 minutes long.