Alum Juan Alvarado Valdivia Paints Short, Pithy Portraits of Latinos in 'Ballad of a Slopsucker'

Thursday, March 21, 2019

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS -- The title tale, “Slopsucker,” is the story of a Bay Area man of Peruvian heritage stepping tentatively into his 10-year high-school reunion at Horatio’s restaurant in San Leandro. He’s a headbanger turned head hanger, full of regret for lost loves, lost friendships and feeling about as low as his band name suggests.

It’s one of 12 very different stories, many involving regret — perhaps a way of working through his own Catholic guilt, Alvarado Valdivia says with a wry laugh. Most are set in the East Bay, and they’re all assembled in a very intentional order — kind of a “mix tape” of themes, he says, with everything from love, family and masculinity to workplace weirdness and adventures on BART. And while there’s humor and hope, most of the stories land on the serious side.

Born to Peruvian parents in Guadalajara, Mexico, Alvarado Valdivia grew up in Fremont. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University and has a master’s in creative writing from Saint Mary’s College.