Before the Earth Devours Us: Essays
by Esteban Rodríguez
publication date: September 30, 2021
—Named "2021 Impressive Indie Book" by Independent Book Review
—Named "Best of 2020/2021 Nonfiction Book" by Entropy
In Esteban Rodríguez’s debut essay collection Before the Earth Devours Us, a young boy emerges from the valley of childhood memories, curious and seeking to understand a world that is violent, uncertain, and as full of loss as it is of life from the people who inhabit it. Here, the pages unfurl with uncles engaged in physical conflict; dogs roam neighborhoods and alleyways; a dead bird is used as a play object; and our protagonist, through observation and conflict of his own, begins to make sense of the impact he and his body have on others. Lyrical, engaging, and always honest, Rodríguez’s memorable collection reminds us that the past is never beyond language’s redemption.
Praise for Before the Earth Devours Us:
"Esteban Rodríguez drives a strong sentence and animates a volatile world. The essays in Before the Earth Devours Us render vividly the idioms of family life and the tensions and enticements of coming of age."
—Sven Birkerts, author of The Gutenberg Elegies and Changing the Subject
"A dead crow, an old dog, and a stolen toy buried in the dirt. From such singular images Esteban Rodríguez springs to life his childhood in south Texas in vivid detail and tenderness. I felt transported not just to a time and a place, but also enraptured by the emotional tenors of events that feel mythic in their reverence for the past. A meditative exploration of God, guilt, fear, and loneliness, this is a book that poignantly delivers a landscape of memories both unique and universal, a map of wonder and awe."
—Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Children of the Land
Esteban Rodríguez is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Ordinary Bodies (Word West Press, 2021), and the essay collection Before the Earth Devours Us (Split/Lip Press, 2021). His poems and reviews have appeared in New England Review, The Gettysburg Review, Colorado Review, West Branch, The Adroit Journal, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is interviews editor for the EcoTheo Review, associate poetry editor for AGNI, and a senior book reviews editor for Tupelo Quarterly. He lives with his family in south Texas.