Word Works: Luis Alberto Urrea on Understory
The understory is the engine room of successful prose. It is the sweat lodge and the haunted house and the shadowland. It is the invisible narrative, the indirect means of telling a story. Bad writing teachers call it imagery—but imagery is merely the first step down under. Urrea will explain understory as a unique writing tool. Nonfiction writer Margot Kahn Case will moderate the Q&A.
Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed author of fourteen books, including poetry, essays, and novels. Born in Tijuana, Mexico, to a Mexican father and an Anglo mother, Urrea’s work is inspired by his cross-cultural upbringing and unique perspective of life on both sides of the border. His first book, Across the Wire, which draws from his experiences working with Tijuana garbage pickers as a missionary in his early twenties, was named a New York Times Notable Book. Among his most celebrated works is The Devil’s Highway, a revealing nonfiction account of twenty-six Mexican immigrants lost in the torrid, desolate Arizona desert. The book was a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and a Kiriyama Prize winner. He has taught writing workshops at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Bay Community College, and the University of Colorado.