On 12/15/06 Manuel Ramos's post introduced Rudolfo Anaya's The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story. The blurb quoted publisher UNM Press: "She [Jade] has made the first tortilla." It also mentions a Mountain Spirit and talking hummingbirds. Sounds like a fantasy, folktale or leyenda, right?
In our 7/18/07 review of The First Tortilla, Bloguista Gina MarySol Ruiz wrote: "Rudolfo Anaya has written a magical and lovely folktale about the origins of that favorite of us mexicanos/Chicanos, the delicious tortilla." Note her use of "folktale" and "the origins of the tortilla."
When the editors of Guanabee read our review, they remarked: "Finally, a role model for young Mexican girls that doesn’t ask them to sell out so damn hard… but make tortillas instead?" While their first remark may or may not be commendable, it is the "make tortillas instead" that begs literary interpretation.
That anyone, Latino-oriented or otherwise, could misconstrue a folktale about the first tortilla as somehow advocating that contemporary, young Mexican girls should make tortillas instead of aspiring to other (unnamed) activities, indicates either a low level of vocabulary or deliberate misinterpretation.
Using Guanabee logic, we'd expect their editors to review Little Red Hen and the Grains of Wheat and vilify its author(s) for advocating that young females take up bread making instead of other (unnamed) activities. Or perhaps they think the authors of another old story, about Adam and Eve, didn't want 21st century females eating apples.
A folktale about the distant past or a fantasy world, with talking hummingbirds or hens (or serpents), should not be interpreted as providing lessons or role models, solely based on the plot. Guanabee editors seemed to understand part of that. It's the part they didn't that separates Guanabee from La Bloga.
If we read further into the post: "Bless Me, Ultima, the novel that taught us Mexicans/vomiting can be literary motifs", one wonders what they consider to be rational critique. Characterizing Anaya's recognized classic in this fashion seems like a shallow way to artificially create controversy. In their own words, "Guanabee is commentary on media, pop culture and entertainment, spicy coverage for the Latino in you."
Now, I don't know about you, but the Latino in me prefers that spicy coverage not approach the abyss of Fox-TV standards of verity. Guanabee is a commercially supported site, filled with "ads by Google" and other business interests, including Fox (by chance?), so perhaps the "spicy" in Guanabee is simply intended to generate more hits-per-month to support their bottom line. That it generated my hit, indicates outrageous deviations from common sense can make money. This is another aspect where La Bloga separates from other Internet sites in that we deliberately avoid commercial interests.
Comments to the Guanabee post likewise reflect more grasping at straw men and low-level bursts of supposedly smart remarks like, "The highly-anticipated sequel to [The First Tortilla] will have Jade pushing Qdoba burritos in central Los Angeles. . ." That my post may generate more Guanabee hits is only unfortunate in that at times you need to know what a bad tortilla tastes like to better appreciate homemade ones. While we know La Bloga's "cooking" doesn't always reach what we strive for, be assured we won't go commercial on you and forsake the literary for the North American corporate dollar.
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Due to popular demand I decided to pull the second part of this post until I read The Confessional. I will leave the Comments, though.
As I said in that part, "I've had to eat my words before." In this case readers let me know they felt I do need to to set the table and gorge on some of my own masa. I'm going for the masa.
Rudy Ch. Garcia