Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Club Virgin

Melinda Palacio

On Sunday, I met with my first book club, the Stanford Chicano/Latino Alumni Association Book Club of Southern California.
It was a good thing the eight alumni met in Pasadena. This meant that after driving from Santa Barbara to New Orleans, with numerous stops in between and returning in a fiendish schedule of one night and two days to cover two thousand miles in order to do a book signing at the Book Den in Santa Barbara last Thursday and then attend a wedding reception on Saturday, I only had to drive to Pasadena and not Stanford Sunday morning. As you can guess from my long-winded sentences, I’m pretty tired from all the driving, but each stop offers new opportunities that make me grateful for venturing out to promote my debut novel, Ocotillo Dreams. I never had a quinceañera, but I guess the book tour is like one big quinceañera without the fancy gown and tiara. The expenses are comparable and I must certainly rely on the book’s madrinas and padrinos for lodging, meals, and sales.

Sunday’s madrinas and padrinos were the Stanford Chicano/Latino Alumni Association Book Club of Southern California. The host was our very own, Michael Sedano, of La Bloga. He was one of the first readers to review my book on La Bloga and to give his very strong opinion of the characters in Ocotillo Dreams. It’s too bad he is not a member of Amazon and cannot offer his review. Anyone who has ever ordered from Amazon can review any book or simply press the ‘like’ button if they enjoyed the read. Michael served up a mean menudo. I was a little congested and cruda from the previous night’s party when I arrived, but a little menudo helped. He also had coffee, juice, mimosas, and champagne, along with pan dulce, tortillas, and all the usual fixings for menudo, including fresh oregano from his garden.
The Stanford Chicano/Latino Alumni Association Book Club of Southern California

I was pleasantly surprised from the vigorous comments of the Stanford alumni and a little relieved that there were no snarky comments about me being a Cal alum (Stanford’s rival). Michael was kind enough to wear his Berkeley Dad sweatshirt and Concepcion mentioned that she also had a daughter who went to Berkeley. This group had much to say about my book. For the first fifteen to thirty minutes (what seemed like an eternity), I was allowed to listen to the group discuss my book as if I weren’t in the room. A fly on the wall is how someone put it. Then came the defense. I was allowed to speak and answer questions such as what would I do differently or what inspired me to write the book. I loved the group’s passion for reading and their thoughtful comments and notes. This group has been meeting for over 20 years to discuss books by Latino authors; you could sense the camaraderie in the room. Perhaps it was the mimosas or the tequila that followed the lunch or Michael’s piano playing, but this is a great book club. The Santa Barbara Club I’m visiting next week has a big act to follow. However, all my book events have been unique and I never know what to expect. This is part of the fun of touring. I’m sure the snacks at the next one will be much different than the Sunday morning menudo at Michael’s.


msedano said...

it was a grand event indeed. As a USC and UCSB graduate I must acknowledge my status as an honorary member of the Stanford book club.

All Stanford grads in the El Lay area should Comment here, get yourselves into the reading group. We're reading Olivas' novel, Book of Want, next.


Thelma T. Reyna said...

Melinda, this sounds like it was a wonderful adventure for you. I'm glad your book tour is going well, exhausting though it seems to be. Continued successes to you!