Monday, July 11, 2005

SPOTLIGHT ON SALVADOR PLASCENCIA



Monday’s post from Daniel Olivas

Salvador Plascencia was born in 1976 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Plascencia’s mother was a seamstress, his father a factory worker who moved frequently between California and their home in Jalisco. Growing up at his grandparents’ farm, his extended family passed along a wealth of stories, some of which formed the inspiration for his debut novel, The People of Paper (McSweeney’s). His family eventually settled east of Los Angeles in the city of El Monte when Plascencia was eight years old. At the time, he spoke no English. Salvador Plascencia holds a BA in English from Whittier College and an MFA in fiction from Syracuse University. He received a National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts Award in Fiction in 1996 and the Peter Nagoe Prize for Fiction in 2000. In 2001 he was awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the first fellow in fiction. His first published fiction appeared in McSweeney’s No. 12.

I note that Plascencia is still getting kudos for The People of Paper. Jason Alden Williams, a bookseller and blogger from Tempe, AZ, gives the novel a rave review, calling it

“a perfect mesh of memoir and fiction, is the best new book I've read in the last three years. It's a once-in-a-long-while type book, a book of immediate consequence, considered right away for canonization, a book that makes other ways of writing look amateurish and dated - a book that seems to do everything right: it is experimental and beautiful; it is intellectual and easy. It marks the end of one great era (Postmodernism) and the beginning of what looks to be another (Aestheticism?). At any rate, it is the early new standard of writing for the next generation of authors and readers. Read it, love it. It may be awhile before you read another book this inventive and magical and true.”

But read the whole review for yourself and post a note on Jason’s blog letting him know you’ve come by. I also note that Jane Ganahl of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an interesting profile of Plascencia describing one of his unusual book readings.

And this just in…The New York Times yesterday did a joint review of Plascencia’s novel with Luis J. Rodríguez’s Music of the Mill (HarperCollins/Rayo). Nathaniel Rich gives a bit of a mixed review but, in the end, he appreciates these books noting: “Both novels, different though their approaches are, portray Los Angeles's Mexican-American communities with a grandeur and dignity that conventional accounts of the region's history often deny them.”

POESÍA: As I mentioned a few posts back, I recently purchased Ariel Robello’s debut collection, My Sweet Unconditional: Poems (Tía Chucha Press, 2005). Ariel received a PEN West Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship in 2002. She teaches poetry in Los Angeles public high schools and English in the garment district. I finally have had some time to dip in and enjoy her beautiful, powerful words. Here’s one of the poems which is entitled “The Runaway”:

Hailey’s comet tears down La Cienega Blvd.
splitting the car wash
open like a hooker’s thighs

blisters rise on Randy’s giant doughnut
sweet confections and garbage men
scramble for their lives

the unfortunate driver
stuck at the eternal red light
glass cut palms
a lifetime of gripping the wheel
too tight

the misunderstood sky
a field of bloody salutations
waving hello

goodbye.

PALABRAS: At La Librería para Niños it’s storytime every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Location: 1200 N. Main St., #100, Santa Ana, CA 92701. It’s right next door to Librería Martínez Books & Art. More information can be found at their Web page. As you know, both stores were founded by the inexhaustible Rueben Martínez. And he just opened a new one in Lynwood!

REVIEW: The always insightful Rigoberto González offers a review of Daniel Alarcón's War by Candlelight: Stories (HarperCollins) in this Sunday’s El Paso Times. Read more of González’s El Paso Times reviews here.

DÉME UN BESO: I recently learned that my collection, Devil Talk: Stories (Bilingual Press), is being taught by Frederick Luis Aldama this fall at Ohio State University as part of the coursework for the Sexuality Studies Minor. The class is entitled, “Greed, Vengeance, and Love in Ethnic Technicolor: La Vida Loca in London and L.A.” ¡Ay!

FINALMENTE: This Tuesday, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., I will be the guest DJ on the truly stupendous Pinky's Paperhaus, the most literate music show on Kill Radio (or anywhere else for that matter). I will be interviewed by the lovely Pinky, play some tunes and read a bit from my short stories. Listen live on the Web! And then on Saturday, July 16, at 8:00 p.m., I will be a guest author at the Vermin on the Mount reading with other fine folks put together by the brilliant Jim Ruland. Where: The Mountain Bar, 473 Gin Ling Way in Chinatown. I’d love to meet the fine gente who read La Bloga so come on by, drink some cerveza or one of those fancy-ass martinis, enjoy some literature and say “hola.”

All done. Until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!

3 comments:

Jason Alden Williams said...

I'm going to read Music of the Mill and your own book, Devil Talk. I'll review your book on my site, of course - perhaps I could guest review Music of the Mill on La Bloga?

I think I'll check out War by Candlelight, too. My reading list is so long...

Thanks for the link and the great information.

Jason

p.s.
What was Plascencia winning awards for as far back as 1996? I'm assuming it was schoolwork fiction. Is this early work available anywhere?

daniel olivas said...

thanks for the note, jason. let me ask my compadres about the guest reviewing suggestion and i'll let you know. in terms of plascencia's award, i knew at one point but i'll have to dig into my files to remind myself. i seem to remember that it involved a grant to write his novel.

Manuel Ramos said...

Plascencia's book sounds wild - too good to be true. Yet another for the TBR pile - I can't catch up. Wasn't life easier when we didn't have so many writers?