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Some of my best friends while growing up in Rock Island, Illinois, were Mexican- Americans. In high school we shared many adventures. After years of living in New York, Vermont, and India I returned to my hometown and rediscovered my admiration for my old friends there, and saw that a colorful Mexican-American neighborhood had been re-christened “Hero Street” in honor of the men it had sent to America’s wars. I wanted to tell a story about Midwest America with a narrator from this community. Diving for Carlos is an American myth. The narrator (Cruz) is mestizo, of mixed ancestry. I identify with this, feeling my psyche is a mix of influences—twenty-five years of studying and writing about India, teaching Asian Religions and Comparative Religion for twenty-five years, deeply interested in African-American music and creativity, married to a Jewish woman for forty-some years, etc. I think most Americans are now multi-cultural. I studied at Goodman Theatre, the Art Institute of Chicago; in Vermont; in India; and I received my PhD at Harvard University. I taught courses about Comparative Religion for 25 years at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. I am the author of books about the singer-saints of South India ("Vijayanagara Visions"), fractals in cultures ("Heaven's Fractal Net"), and compassion in America ("The Wisdom of Generosity"). Besides writing, I like to make collages of found objects, and to edit music videos. Diving for Carlos was a finalist in ForeWord magazine's Book of the Year Awards in the fiction category. A suspense novel by me, Gypsy Escapades, set in India, is being published by Rupa Publications in New Delhi.
William J. Jackson is the author of several books about South Indian culture including "Tyagaraja - Life and Lyrics," "Songs of Three Great South Indian Saints," and "Vijayanagara Visions," all published by Oxford University Press. He also wrote "Vijayanagara Voices: Exploring South Indian History and Hindu Literature," published by Ashgate Publishing in England. He has also written a book about fractal-like geometrical patterns in cultural artifacts, entitled "Heaven's Fractal Net: Retrieving Lost Visions in the Humanities" (Indiana University Press). From 2005-2008 he served as the first Lake Scholar at the Lake Family Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. As part of his work in that position he published an anthology entitled "The Wisdom of Generosity" (Baylor University Press). His novel, "Diving for Carlos" and a book of short stories, "Worldviews Kaleidoscope," are examples of his early fiction. In 2008 he was a finalist in the Faulkner/Wisdom annual competition in the category of novellas for "The Floating Empire of Dancing Bears," which is unpublished. He is currently working on a series of suspense novels set in exotic locations. The first in that series is "Gypsy Escapades," published by Rupa Publications in Delhi. He has also been working on essays about America.
He is Professor Emeritus, Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, where he taught for 20 years. He earned his PhD in the Comparative Study of Religion at Harvard University. He is married to nurse practitioner Marcia Plant Jackson, and lives in Indianapolis.
"Reading Diving for Carlos... As the characterizations of Scoto and his half brother Lucian get more ridiculous they become true. One does not have to look far to see that their reality appears timeless. The same stories go on in real time. I'm not listening to News and NPR now. I'm getting my news from "Diving for Carlos". -Mike Hickey, Apollo Beach, FL
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Thanks Bill for this delightful, zany trip down the memory lane I never really traveled. Having been a war resister and Draft dropout(actually drafted by mistake!!! and the local board let me finish school, sort of). Carlos might be the man I never was or even a legend in my own mind. His exploits are kinda like deja vu all over again except on the East Coast and living a lie.
A read and a reread (to make sure I got it all) for sure.
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