The Next Chapter

Carmen Aguirre on her memoir of trauma and healing

The Canada Reads–winning author discusses the childhood trauma at the heart of her new memoir.
Aguirre has followed up her Canada Reads-winning debut, Something Fierce, with a second memoir, Mexican Hooker #1.

Carmen Aguirre's first memoir, Something Fierce, chronicled her time as a Chilean resistance fighter against the Pinochet regime. The book won Canada Reads in 2012. Now, Aguirre is back with a second memoir, Mexican Hooker #1: And My Other Roles Since the Revolution, a powerful story of resilience and healing from trauma.

Carmen Aguirre spoke to Shelagh Rogers from Vancouver.

Please note that this segment contains graphic content that some readers may find disturbing.

The theme of this book is healing from PTSD, so I thought it was good to start by describing a buried trauma that's come to the surface. I flash back during a theatre class to being raped at gunpoint by the "Paper Bag Rapist" when I was 13 years old. He was infamous in the lower mainland of British Columbia because he attacked hundreds of children, mostly girls but some boys as well, between 1978 and 1985, which was when he was caught. I'm letting the reader know what's coming — inevitably I'm going to have to heal from that trauma if I want to make it through theatre school. 

I just buried it. That's not to say that I didn't talk about it — I would talk about it all the time, but from a detached point of view. I think by talking about it and going into descriptions of the horror of it, it was a way of dealing with it. What I'm trying to say is that I thought I had dealt with it, until that voice class when my body reminded me that it was still very much present.

Carmen Aguirre's comments have been edited and condensed.