Severo Perez’s Complex Valentine to San Antonio

October 21, 2019

The story at the heart of filmmaker Severo Perez’s second novel, Odd Birds (Texas Christian University Press), is a pitch-perfect picaresque tale whose origins date to 1971, when he left his native San Antonio to seek his destiny in Hollywood. Perez has been in Los Angeles ever since, where he has directed and produced such films as 1994’s …and the earth did not swallow him, a classic of Chicano cinema based on Tomás Rivera’s 1971 novel, and documentaries exploring the work of the artist Carmen Lomas Garza and the dancer-choreographer Rudy Perez.

But even though Perez created an entirely new life for himself on the West Coast, the complexities of Bejareño reality have continued to fascinate and inspire him.

Odd Birds is a valentine to a San Antonio that no longer exists,” Perez said in a recent interview, though this particular valentine is simultaneously wry, poignant, and inflected with an unstinting, if humble, advocacy for the struggle against the scourges of prejudice and privilege. The San Antonio of 1961 that Odd Birds conjures is a place of...

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