Friday, March 06, 2009

Rabbits to Zombies

Thank you, Annette Leal Mattern, for filling in the past four weeks. Her health-oriented articles were informative and timely; I appreciate that she shared her observations and advice with La Bloga's readers. Hey, RudyG - did you see what she had to say about smoking?

I've been doing a lot of reading and a bit of writing - not as much writing as I should but that's always the case. I hope to soon have some good news about future publications; stay tuned, as they say. One reading project I took up is to read John Updike's Rabbit novels, in order. Years ago I read Rabbit Redux - Updike's recent passing got me to thinking that this might be a good time to catch up on all four Rabbit books. I have to say that Rabbit, Run was a tough book for me to get into but now that I am finally finding a handle on Rabbit's puzzling personality, at least as much as I can in 90 pages, the book is reading quicker. I'm a very slow reader so this particular project could take me months. Where does Updike stand these days in the pantheon of twentieth century North American writers? Is he regarded as having more substance than John O'Hara or more staying power and diversity than John Cheever, but not on the same level as F. Scott Fitzgerald? Or is the jury still out?

Meanwhile ...

(Taken from the Spring 2009 Catalog)

The River Flows North
Graciela Limón

March 31, 2009

In Sonora, a group of immigrants circles around a coyote, Leonardo Cerda, who will—for a price—lead them across the treacherous desert to the United States. Fearful that Cerda may be one of those who will collect their money up front and then leave them stranded to die, the travelers ultimately are forced to put their trust in him and begin the dangerous crossing to a new life. Afraid even of each other, they initially avoid eye contact or conversation. But as the three-day passage across the blistering landscape progresses, the fight to survive the grueling trip ensures that their lives—and deaths—are linked forever.

While trudging along, placing one exhausted foot in front of the other, the travelers each remember their lives and the reasons they have been forced to abandon their land, homes and loved ones. Among the immigrants is Menda Fuentes, a salvadoreña, the only member of her family to survive a massacre during her country’s civil war. Then there is Julio Escalante and his young grandson Manuelito, who pay the full fee even though they plan to go only halfway. By their side is Encarnación Padilla, an ancient indigenous woman who has survived ostracism and her involvement in the Zapatista uprising. Next to her walk Nicanor and Borrego Osuna, two brothers who suffer the ultimate indignity just to make it to the United States. Finally, there is Armando Guerrero, shifty, suspicious-looking, and clearly different from the rest because of his fancy clothes as well as the mysterious bag to which he clings.

In addition to confronting their own internal demons, they must also face the dangers that they encounter on the trail: poisonous snakes, debilitating dehydration and exhaustion, and a ferocious sandstorm that tears the group apart. This riveting novel explores the lives behind the news stories and confirms Limón’s status as one of the country’s premiere Latinas writing about issues that affect us all.

Survival Supervivencia
Miguel Algarin
March 31, 2009

This anthology of searing poetry and prose collects the famed Nuyorican's writings from the past 35 years

"Don’t believe the deadly game," Miguel Algarin warns the elderly black Puerto Rican sitting in a park in Old San Juan, "of Northern cities paved with gold and plenty / don’t believe the fetching dream / of life improvement in New York / the only thing you’ll find in Boston / is a soft leather shoe up your ass."

In this affecting collection of poetry and prose, Nuyorican poet Miguel Algarin crafts beautifully angry, sad pieces about injustice and loss. While warning his compatriots about the unreality of the American Dream, he acknowledges that "we are the pistons that / move the roughage through Uncle / Sam’s intestines, we keep the flow / of New York happening / we are its muscles."

Algarin’s poems covering his long career give voice to the disenfranchised—the junkie, the HIV inflicted, the poverty stricken—and survival is a recurring theme. In the essay "Nuyorican Language," which was originally published in 1975, he argues that for the New York Puerto Rican, there are three survival possibilities: to work hard for little money all your life and remain in eternal debt; to live life by taking risks of all types, including killing, cheating and stealing; and to create alternative behavioral habits. The Nuyorican poet, he says, must create a new language, "A new day needs a new language or else the day becomes a repetition of yesterday."

While many of the poems focus on the Puerto Rican experience in New York, others touch on universal experiences such as the death of friends and the ephemeral nature of life. "So what if you’re dead, / I’m here, you’re gone, / and I’m left alone / to watch how time betrays, / and we die slow / so very slow." And he turns his sharp gaze on events around the world, including the fights between England and Argentina for the Falkland Islands, Israel and Palestine for the Holy Land.

With an introduction by Ernesto Quiñonez, author of the acclaimed novel Bodega Dreams, this collection takes the reader through an intimate, autobiographical journey of one of the country’s leading Nuyorican writers and intellectuals.

Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery
Edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martínez
Introduction by Ralph E. Rodriguez, Ph.D
March 31, 2009

Of course I have to mention this anthology - again. And expect more from me dealing with this book and the contributors - I'm lining up at least one intriguing interview and hope to have more to share. For now, here's a complete list of the authors: Mario Acevedo, Lucha Corpi, Sarah Cortez, Carolina García-Aguilera, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Carlos Hernandez, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Bertha Jackson, John Lantigua, Art Muñoz, R. Narvaez, L.M. Quinn, A.E. Roman, Manuel Ramos, S. Ramos O'Briant, Steven Torres, Sergio Troncoso.


NALAC awarded over $143,000 to 22 Latino artists and 17 Latino arts and culture organizations for the 2008-2009 cycle of the NALAC Fund for the Arts (NFA). The NALAC Fund for the Arts (NFA), is the only national arts fund specifically for Latino artists and arts organizations in the United States. READ MORE

The 2008-2009 NFA Grantees Are:

Artists: Brent Beltrán, Anna De Orbegoso, Nicolas Dumit Estevez, Nicole Elmer, Michael John Garces, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Sandra Guardado, Eren McGinnis, Esau Melendez, Abinadi Meza, Elisha Miranda, Michelle Ortiz, Sandra Pena Sarmiento, Laura Perez, Marlene Ramirez Cancio, Omar G. Ramirez, Ruben Salazar, Minerva Tapia, Juana Valdes, Vito Jesus Valdez, and Elio Villafranca

Organizations: Arte, Inc., Association of Hispanic Arts, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Calpulli Mexican Dance Co., Conjunto Heritage Taller, El Centro Su Teatro, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, Fiesta DC, La Casa de la Raza, MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, The Providence Latin American Film Festival, Santa Cecilia Orchestra, Serie Project, Talento Bilingüe de Houston, Taller Puertorriqueño, Inc., Teatro IATI, and Teatro Vision.


Mario Acevedo reads from and signs his latest Felix Gomez novel, Jailbait Zombie, on March 9, 2009, at 7:30 PM at the Colfax Avenue Tattered Cover, Denver. Acevedo is a former infantry and aviation officer, engineer, art teacher to incarcerated felons, and the bestselling author of The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, X-Rated Bloodsuckers, and The Undead Kama Sutra. In Jailbait Zombie (HarperCollins) vampire detective Gomez coming face-to-face with the worst sort of undead. To stop a ravenous army of zombies, the detective must team up with a precocious teen with clairvoyant powers whose cooperation comes at a price: she won't help unless Felix makes her a vampire - if the zombies don't get her first.

Mario's continuing signing schedule so far is:

The Paranormal Bender Tour with fantasy authors Mario Acevedo, Caitlin Kittredge, Mark Henry,
and Cherie Priest:

Clark County Library, Jewel Box Theater
Las Vegas, NV
March 11, 2009. 7 PM
Mysterious Galaxy
San Diego, CA
March 13, 2009. 7 PM
Dark Delicacies
Burbank, CA
March 14, 2009. 2 PM
Borderlands Books
San Francisco, CA
March 15, 2009. 7 PM
Powell's Books
Beaverton, OR
March 16, 2009. 7 PM

To get you in the right mood for an evening with Mario here's his animated trailer for his new book featuring motorcycle-riding Legos, directed and animated by Emiliano Acevedo.


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