Storyglossia Issue 38, February 2010.

An Interview with Robert Paul Moreira


Robert Paul Moreira's short story, "Scores," appears in Storyglossia 38. Here, Robert takes a few moments to discuss the story's origins, South Texas, baseball in fiction versus baseball stories, narrative structure, and what he's currently working on.


Anne Valente: Where did the premise for this story come from?


Robert Paul Moreira: "Scores" started out as the simple story of a South Texas baseball team after the Border Wall cuts through their field. The present version of the story turned out much different, though. As is the case with most of my fiction, the story seemed to take on a life of its own in subsequent drafts, complicated itself, and somewhere along the way, "Scores" became a tale of loss and redemption.


AV: Your writing includes such great details—I can feel this Texas, this heat and environment. How did you pull this off so well?


RPM: South Texas is definitely a feast for the senses, and the senses feed all of my fiction. This unique region is seldom explored by writers on the outside, this tip of Texas that pokes into Mexico like a tongue and savors on the medley of foods and people and customs from both sides of the border. I'm originally from L.A., the product of a Cuban father and Mexican mother, but it took relocating to South Texas to learn to embrace diversity in my writing—physical, emotional, geographical—and make it work on the page. "Scores," I hope, is not only a testament to the importance I give to characters and their plights (as every well-crafted short story should, of course), but to the vital role setting can play. How did I pull this off so well? I guess my answer would have to be that I used it all—"this Texas, this heat, and environment" and I allowed it to bring my characters and my story into being.


AV: How did baseball fit so naturally into the story told here?


RPM: I'm glad you made the distinction between a "baseball story" and a story that includes baseball. The greatest baseball stories aren't about baseball at all, to be honest, and they survive only because they shed some light on those universal themes that inspire, haunt us as humans. In "Scores," baseball served as a great conduit for the tense relationship between Clete and Tito. It also represented that one, all-American activity that separated the brothers from their Mexican neighbors. Finally, it worked on a psychological level, since baseball was ultimately responsible for both the mortal rift between Tito and his girlfriend, Luvy; as well as Tito's strong desire for redemption throughout the piece. Baseball gave me the title, too.


AV: The narrative moves in and out, between more stream-of-consciousness sections and present-day narration. Why did this structure feel right for the story?


RPM: Poppa gave me the structure for "Scores," no doubt about it. "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is one of my favorite stories of all time, and this was my tribute to that masterpiece, I think, even though I chose first-person over third. The way Hemingway introduced Harry, then employed those beautiful stream-of-conscious flashbacks to deepen the reader's sense of his struggle, along with all the profound subtext—all of that compelled me to try the same with my own story and younger characters. I wanted Tito to tell his story, so first-person fit quite naturally. Present-tense felt right for "Scores" because it granted the entire text that same sense of urgency inherent in Tito after the accident. The nonlinear structure of "Scores" represented the prism of grief through which Tito perceived the world after his fall and subsequent struggle towards absolution.


AV: What are you currently working on? Any stories forthcoming that we can point readers to?


RPM: Got a story, "Cobb and Me," forthcoming in Aethlon: the Journal of Sports Literature later this year. Along with "Scores" and other stories dealing with identity, immigration and baseball, these works will be included in my MFA thesis, which I'm currently wrapping up, and which I hope to submit as a manuscript for possible publication in the near future. Got an idea for an anthology of Latino/Latina baseball literature too, as well as a novel. And I'm waiting for word from a few English Lit/Creative Writing Ph.D. programs I applied to late last year.


Robert Paul Moreira is an MFA candidate at University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg, Texas. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Aethlon: the Journal of Sports Literature, Dark Sky Magazine, Breakwater Review, Bartleby Snopes, Interstice Literary Journal, and other literary journals. His short story, Cobb and Me, forthcoming in Aethlon, won the 2009 Best Graduate Fiction Award from the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT).