WINFIELD – Imagine a world where poets are treated like rock stars, people make billions producing artificial hearts, and humans can live almost indefinitely.
That is the world of Rey Pescador, the titular protagonist in Winfield author Alfred Cedeno’s new book, “The Resurrection of Rey Pescador.”
The Wheaton College alumnus recently spoke to Suburban Life Media reporter Nathan Lurz about his novel and upcoming book signing in Wheaton.
Lurz: So what is your book about?
Cedeno: It’s about the main character, Rey Pescador, who is this larger-than-life poet from Chicago. He ends up becoming incredibly famous and kind of an international celebrity. Through this, he goes on a bunch of crazy adventures all across the world, with kind of a tall tale feel. Even the narrator doesn’t know whether to believe all these stories. But it’s also about searching for meaning in a world that is increasingly technologically advanced.
Lurz: Why choose a poet for your main character?
Cedeno: I originally started writing it several years ago. I had just graduated college, and a couple of friends and I were writing these stories about these larger-than-life characters and this fictional place where poets were rock stars. It was just a fun way to joke about how poetry isn’t the most popular thing right now.
Lurz: So there must be some of your own poetry inside?
Cedeno: Yes, there are five or six poems throughout it … and a couple raps as well, where he goes to a competition where he has a rap battle with some famous rappers, which was fun.
Lurz: So you had to not only share your own poetry, but had to create poetry that was believably the best poetry in the world. How did you approach that? And did the fact that you were writing it as someone else change it?
Cedeno: I tried to capture the voice that he has in his dialogue in his poetry a little bit, and I kind of tried to have his personality when I was writing it. He has this confidence and swagger to him, so when I was writing the poetry, I asked, “What would someone who is one of the most confident people in the world think?”
Lurz: Tell me a little bit more about the book, its structure, what some of those adventures are.
Cedeno: The story is told by a narrator, and the narrator is the cousin of Rey Pescador who is writing these stories about him 25 years after they happened and looking back on the life of Rey Pescador. There are about 60 chapters for a 300-page book, so it’s very episodic, short snapshots at what’s happening.
The other important setting element is that, within this fictional universe, everyone has robotic, artificial hearts. It takes place in a world really similar to ours, but there are some technological advancements in that world that affect everyone.
Rey Pescador is one of the few people who don’t have one of these artificial hearts, and that’s a little bit of a commentary on technology today. It’s probably, hopefully, more subtle than it sounds.
Lurz: What prompted the artificial heart portion of the story?
Cedeno: The heart is kind of a classic symbol for personhood and emotion, and all of these people are pacified with the ability to live so long. In this world, with artificial hearts and other things, people kind of live indefinitely.
It has kind of a dystopian feel at times – it’s a world that, instead of the government killing people or pacifying people with violence, the government is just pacifying people. And the metal heart is a good symbol of that – kind of over-the-top sometimes, but I tried to keep it in the background. And Rey doesn’t have it and has to hide that from others.