carlos montoya–a novel (2022)

from the inside flap:

Just as the arms of the Six-Armed Cross at La Garita, Colorado point toward one center, the Montoya family legacy melds the additional arms of incompatibility, intimacy, and multiple realities—the sensible and the mystical. Three generations of Montoya’s family must come to terms with brokenness–what it means for family, to be broken by lies and by truth. World War I veteran and family patriarch, Carlos Montoya wanders the llano of New Mexico and Colorado finding himself tormented by traveling ghosts and struggling for spiritual and family unity. 

“Chronicler of hard and valuable lives. This is a career to watch.” —Tracy Daugherty, author of One Day the Wind Changed

“Beautiful– cinematic yet intimate. I love how the book moves in ripples out from the man to wider context of history and family experience. Each chapter opens the door onto a whole other court of memory.”—Jennifer C.Cornell, author of Departures

book trailer:


Over dinner, my crimson-haired aunt Lena sat and told stories over bowls of green chile and mugs of sugary coffee. “My poor Papa Carlos,” she said. “God rest his soul.”

This was all right before my mother ran off, when my aunt cooked and cared for me, and before I found myself living in Lena’s neighborhood.

“Mean old bastard,” my mother said. She stabbed and scraped at every dirty plate from the kitchen table and then wiped down the counters. 

“Shame on you!” my Tia answered. “Don’t say such things to the boy! He needs to know about his people!” Then she tamped out her latest cigarette. And before lighting another, she advised us to locate family for ourselves. To always look for family for ourselves. 

“He’s dead and gone,” my mother said, exasperated. 

My aunt shook her head and threw up her hands. “Your father was a builder and a soldier. In the villages of the San Luis Valley. The man is there. That is where you can find him. The place of his birth.”

“We buried him at Roselawn. Don’t you remember?” my mother said. “Nothing left of him. House out on Franklin Street burned down and ashes. The man is in the ground!”

“No,” Lena said. “He’s there!”

My mother held her hand to her forehead. She said, “You’re scaring me. Can’t you see what’s real no more? That’s fool as all hell.”

When it was just me and my aunt sitting close again and whispering, she nestled her ancient and leathery hand into mine. “Promise me,” Lena insisted until I finally nodded and smiled. “Good boy, mi hijo. You go see about my father.”