The Line Becomes a River
By Francisco Cantu
I met the author at the “NONFICTIONNOW” conference late last year where over 400 non-fiction writers, teachers, and readers from around the world gathered to explore the past, present and future of nonfiction. Cantu was the keynote speaker and was interviewed at the iconic Orpheum Theater in downtown Phoenix.
Listening to Cantú, it became obvious that the border was in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Driven to understand the hard realities of the landscape he loves, Cantú joined the Border Patrol in 2008. He and his partners learned to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Plagued by a growing awareness of his complicity in a dehumanizing enterprise, he abandoned the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend traveled to Mexico to visit his dying mother, and did not return, Cantú discovered that the border had migrated with him, and now he must know the full extent of the violence it wreaks, on both sides of the line.