I decided to conduct an experiment at my recent trip to Barnes and Noble and see what Latin@ authors are prominently displayed. By prominently displayed, I mean that the books were placed face up on a table of featured books or had their cover displayed on a bookcase where the other books are primarily displayed with the spines facing out. My analysis: More than I expected for a bookstore in Alabama. The authors are the major ones, but I’ve heard that in order for your book to be featured in a big-box bookstore, it basically has to be a bestseller and your publisher has to make arrangements. There was one pitiful shelf on the “Cultural Studies” bookcase, which carried about 11 books by or about Latin@s, pretty outdated, alongside an equally dismal selection for LGBTQ, social studies, Native American, and African American books. Anyway, this is going to be a photo post – see below for the results:
I just finished reading Seven for the Revolution by Rudy Ruiz. Ruiz’s inaugural fictional work recently won several categories for the 2014 Latino Book Awards: First Place in Best Popular Fiction, the Mariposa Award for Best First Book – Fiction, and Second Place for Most Inspirational Fiction Book and Honorable Mention for Best Cover.
Seven is a collection of short stories about U.S. Latinos. Read all the way through, and you’ll see the connections between the stories. A motif of bridges resonates through the book and serves as a symbol of the back-and-forth lifestyle of immigrants.
The book begins with the story of Enrique, a Mexican colonel in the Porfiriato era. His story introduces us to the intertwining Mexican-American border story and the stories progress chronologically from there.
I identified and enjoyed most of all the story “Bending the Laws of Motion,” a coming of age story in which a entrepreneurial young boy sells “chile” candy (what I grew up calling by the brand name “Lucas’ or just “picolin”) in an attempt to get an Evel Knievel-inspired bike. I don’t know if it’s the story of the hardworking family, the plucky young boy, or maybe just how they go back and forth across the border, but this story struck a chord with me. I saw myself as a child, a native El Pasoan growing up on the border, probably for the first time in a book.
But really, it’s probably the candy. This Buzzfeed video about Mexican candy makes me laugh until I cry as I remember my childhood:
The book ends with two stories set in the future, in a dystopian United States. The main characters of those stories are barely Latino, by which I mean they really don’t identify with any Latino culture and you don’t see the hallmarks of Mexican-American or other Latino culture in the setting. This really mystified me. After much thought, it finally occurred to me that as the story progresses through time, like a real multi-generational Mexican-American or Latino family, after so many generations the family will branch off and some will no longer identify with the culture. The dystopian stories weren’t my favorite (where did they get cake from? exactly what happened?) but I think they provided the most thought fodder.
Overall impression: there are parts where the language is somewhat clunky and a there is a very unusual use of many, many ellipses, but overall the book is an enjoyable read. I would feel comfortable sharing this book with a YA reader, as well. The book’s areas of excellence are the storytelling, the ability to convey our culture so well, and originality.
The summer solstice has passed, and I’m now seeing back-to-school advertisements. Seriously, a few days ago I was in Hobby Lobby, and I was shocked to see the fall items being stocked, but absolutely blown away to see some Christmas items!!! What this means for me is I need to get going on my summer literary list. Literary list, I call it, because I’m going to include books as well as film. Look for my upcoming reviews on all of these!
Wahoo! I’m off for a long weekend! I hope to squeeze in some reading. Make sure to squeeze in these gems over the weekend:
New poems by Pablo Neruda discovered :: via The Guardian – About twenty new poems – yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Neruda’s poetry is so sensuous, I can only compare it to biting into the flesh of a ripe peach.
Latinos Under- and misrepresented in TV and movies :: via The New York Times – I consider movies/plays/tv to be an extension of literature. Most people don’t think that shows are nothing if there aren’t people writing scripts! This article breaks down what most Latinos could already tell you. Interesting read.
Isabel Allende’s summer reading list :: via her blog – I thought this list would have books that were . . . darker, for some reason. Based on Amazon previews alone, I’d say that I’d be mostly likely to pick up Euphoria by Lily King and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride.
10 Chicano films for teaching Mexican-American Studies :: via the Huffington Post — And 10 more recommended via social media. I have seen 8 and 9. I plan on reading Bless Me, Ultima by Ruldofo Anaya and . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra by Tomás Rivera, so I’ll hold off on watching the movies. I’ve added what I can to my Netflix lists.no comments
The temperature is finally reaching my sweet spot – around 90 degrees, and I’m enjoying summer activities! Enjoy these tidbits while you relax this weekend:
Domingo Martinez :: via This American Life – I heard Martinez read one of his short stories from The Boy Kings of Texas a few months ago on This American Life while browsing the archives (I like to listen to public radio while I work). Last Saturday they had Martinez back to read “Blunt Force.” I’ll be doing more research on this author and purchasing his book based on these stories. His voice is an authentic and adroit at conveying the Mexican-American experience. Listen to both stories here.
Reading Rainbow is Back! :: via Kickstarter – If you love books, you’ve probably already heard of this, or even contributed to this Kickstarter campaign. Growing up with Reading Rainbow only reinforced my LOVE of books growing up. I was so sad when it was cancelled, so when my husband heard of this campaign he actually called me at work to tell me about it. As I write this, Levar Burton has raised almost 2.5 million dollars to bring Reading Rainbows to more kids and more classrooms. I didn’t know there are apps for the Kindle and iPad for my 3-year old to enjoy! Excuse me while I go download those immediately.
Latino Kids and Classical Music :: via NPR – The story of conductor Sonia Marie De Leon De Vega, who is bringing classical music to Latino families in Los Angeles.no comments