Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Review: Díaz' Ribald Yunior stories. On-line Floricanto.

Michael Sedano

Review: Junot Díaz. This is How You Lose Her. NY: Riverhead. 2012.
ISBN 9781594487361

I am glad I’m not single, watching my soltera and soltero friends' mad courting dances, and how some gente never seem to get it right. Having immensely enoyed Junot Díaz' ribald masterwork, This is How You Lose Her, I’m especially overjoyed I'm not single and not a sex addict, like Yunior, the voice of most of the stories.

If Yunior were Chicano, people would know him a major league pendejo when it comes to women; a vato who kisses and tells. He gets what’s coming to him every time, and he knows it’s his fault.

That Yunior’s from Santo Domingo doesn’t make him any less a pendejo, while the New York and Caribbean conectas inject a context like that of Chicano and other hispanoparlante fiction--the internal colony, links to the homeland, upward mobility, linguistic mezcla. In the hands of a superb storyteller, which Yunior is, the result is a unique ethos that has readers not hold a grudge for the character's pendejadas.

Díaz elects a first person voice, most stories featuring a boy then a man named Yunior, who has a mouth and is smart. Reading each story offers linguistic and multicultural delights as Díaz pulls unexpected details and words from diverse places.

When Yunior gets on a storyline roll and he knows he's being successful and self-satisfied, that eggs him on to newer, more eloquent, heights. A jarring note enters from the character’s patois that places “nigger” comfortably in his vocabulary. The forbidden diction is lingua franca for Yunior, who also catalogs his women by skin color.

Across the nine stories, Yunior grows, observes, integrates, understands, matures, as one sees him from boy to man, from tenement hermit to Ivy League profe.

The kid and his brother land FOB in the middle of a New York city winter. Yunior watches his brother’s regular trysts with neighborhood girls. Adolescent Yunior takes up with an older woman who then transfers to the faculty of his high school. Yunior’s big brother wastes away from cancer and that’s rock bottom. But the stories aren't about struggling immigrants.

Díaz raises some serious shit in the collection, but mostly he wants to keep matters ribald and infectiously funny. Yunior finds the worst way to muck up relationships. He has everything going for him, looks, style, money, position, alma. Talk about a pendejo: one night he calls his fiancé to tell her he’s thinking of her while he’s lying in bed with a naked woman wrapped around his leg.

He’s the kind of guy who gets jealous when another man eyes his companion’s bikini, the kind of guy who then orders the woman to “stop talking to this asshole”.

He’s the pendejo who flies a gorgeously affectionate woman to a Dominican resort to patch up their relationship, and instead of focusing on her keeps his eyes and hands roving.

Just when things look good, Yunior mucks it up. He sees it coming and knows. This is how you lose her he admits. And as the seasoned roué looks back with a sad smile, the stories tell you loud and clear: Yunior would not have done a thing any differently, and that’s what makes him an even bigger pendejo.

San Anto Conjunto Fest Calls for Writers

La Bloga friend, acordionista and festival organizer Juan Tejeda writes:

We're looking for literature on Conjunto Music for possible publication in the 32nd Annual Tejano Conjunto Festival en San Antonio 2013 program magazine. 

Any literature, including poems, short stories, interviews, scholarly articles on Conjunto Music will be accepted. 

E-mail the literature to me at juantejeda@sbcglobal.net no later than early April. 

On-line Floricanto Penultimate Tuesday in March 2013
Edward Vidaurre, Avotcja, Tim Wozny, Leticia Diaz-Perez, Rafael Jesús González

“Eres Mi Flor, Eres Mi Canto” by Edward Vidaurre
“Ahh The Constitution !!!!” by Tim Wozny
“Las Expresiones De Mi Madre/My Mother’s Words... La Guerra Mexicana-Americana/The Mexican-American War" by Leticia Diaz-Perez
“Adiós Hermano Hugo” por Rafael Jesús González “Goodbye Brother Hugo” by Rafael Jesús González

Eres Mi Flor, Eres Mi Canto
By Edward Vidaurre

Suspended in mid air
Between tears that
Drip from flower petals
That dance in Autumn
Waiting to land on hands
After waltzing with the
Wild wind

Mi Canto,
Dulce como el sudor
Del árbol frágil
Que cuelga sus ramas
Al escuchar tu triste voz

Que canta el mariachi
Tristemente hacía la luna castigada
Por las olas del mar

Eres mi flor,
My spring,
My religious chant
My explosive cry
My every color
My fight
Mi lucha

Mi Canto,
Canto y flor
Flor y canto
Mi sol te pide
My alma te pide
Mi sombra
Te suplica

Mi Flor,
de rodillas
se marchita
y vuelve a nacer
al oír tu canción.

por Avotcja

Cuando canta la Luna
Llora el Sol
Su gran egoísmo perdido entre dos luces
Pobrecito pucheron aparatoso
Echando bocanadas de envidia
Intimidado sin cesar por celos
Pero embrujado por su belleza silenciosa
Y encantado por el milagro de su regalo maravilloso
Y se dice el Viento
¡Que bueno esta nuestra naturaleza pasmosa!
Un ciclo humilde y sencillo
¡Ay bendito! … ¡Mira!
Que rica es
Dicen las estrellas
No hay una noche tan perfecta como esta
¡Coño! … Que tristesa
Dice el amanecer
Lo que tenemos es un mundo limpio, llena de belleza
Y todavia
Anegando en su propia arrogancia
La raza humana
Una raza confundida y sin corazón y
Engordándose de comer su gran falta de gratitud y
Disfrutándolo sin pensar
Ni una gota pequeñita de ternura en las venas
Pura sangre congelada
No puede ver
No quiere ver
Sentados cómodamente y ciegos en sus propios mundocitos
Sangrando condescendencia
Y se dicen
Ríendo en nuestras barbas
¿La Naturaleza? … ¡No Me digas!
Nada más que otra pérdida de tiempo precioso
¿A quien le importa esa bla bla bla?
Tirando más y más y más bochinche y hablando de ná
Solo un otro ciclo tan simple
¿¡¿Y que vale este?!?
Si existe
Solamente porque le mantengo la conexión

By Avotcja

When the Moon sings
The Sun cries
Burning red hot with rage
Its overwhelming egotism lost in the Twilight
Pompous & pouting & looking pitiful
Puffed out of shape with envy
Completely intimidated by jealousy
But enchanted by her silent beauty
And charmed by the extraordinary miracle of her gift
And the Wind says
Mother Nature is astonishing
A humble, unassuming cycle
Aaaah … look!
It's exquisite
The Stars say
There is no Night as perfect as this one
Dammit, how sad!
Says the Dawn
We have a World that's full of pure beauty
And still
The Human Race
A race drowning in its own arrogance
Confused & heartless & making themselves fat
Eating too much of their own lack of gratitude &
Enjoying the whole thing without even a thought
Not one drop of tenderness in their veins
Blood frozen cold
Can't see
Doesn't want to see
Sitting comfortably blind in their own little worlds
Bleeding condescension & laughing in our faces
Mother Nature?!? … You gotta be kidding!
Who cares about all this bla bla bla?
Just another waste of time
Throwing around more & more & more gossip
And talking about nothing
It’s just another simple cycle &
How much can this one thing really be worth?!?
If it only exists
Because I don't pull the plug?!?

Ahh The Constitution !!!!
By Tim Wozny

The right to have as many guns as you want
But not to marry who you want
The Right to Free Speech
But only if it's in English
The Right to practice your Religion as you want
As long as it's Christian and has a White Savior
The Supreme Law of the Land
Unless of course you're an Indian
Then scratch that paragraph about treaties
The Right to the pursuit of happiness
As long as that happiness conforms to the White Christian values
All Men are created equal
Men meaning White Christian males of means
poor males of color not so much
Women..stand in line we're getting to you

You see Sunshine Patriots it's like this
The Constitution is a single document
Complete and continuous
You don't get to take the parts you like and ignore the rest
You don't get to scream about your rights to bear arms
and then demand a law that everybody speak English
You don't get to scream about freedom of religion
and then deny some the right to build a Mosque
You don't get to scream about the greatness of equality and how far we have come
and then deny whole portions of the population that equality
You don't get to wave your guns in the air and scream
about how the Supreme Law of the land protects your right to wave them
and then trot across sacred grounds given in treaties
or to build your malls on lands promised to others
You don't get to sit and scream get over it
You don't get to proclaim
They have nothing to bitch about look what WE gave them

You either abide by the whole of the Constitution
or you legally change it
Or you shut the fuck up

Las Expresiones de mi Madre/My Mother’s Words... "La Guerra Mexicana-Americana/The Mexican-American War"
By Leticia Diaz-Perez

La Guerra Mexicana-Americana

"Mira nena, esos libros de historia que te dan los gringos en la escuela- cuidadoooo! No creas todo lo que lees allí. Cuidado que estos gringos son descendientes directos de piratas. PI-RA-TAS. ¿Entendiste? El capítulo ese sobre la guerra Mexicana-Americana, por ejemplo. Allí no hubo guerra. Allí hubo robo.Los Estados Unidos robó Nuevo Mexico,Arizona, California,Texas, Nevada,Utah y Colorado. Pedíle a tu padre un libro sobre la verdadera historia Mexicana. No quiero que estos ladrones le laven el cerebro a mis hijos . Ellos siempre ponen la historia a su favor. ¡Piratas!"

The Mexican-American War

"Look girl, those history books the gringos give you in school- be careful! Don't believe everything you read in those books. Be careful because these gringos are direct descendants of pirates. PI-RATES. Understand? The chapter on the Mexican-American War, for example.There was no war. It was theft.The United States stole New Mexico, Arizona,Califronia, Texas, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Ask your father for a book on the true history of Mexico. I don't want these crooks brainwashing my kids. They always write history in their favor. Pirates!"

Adiós hermano Hugo 
a Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías

Se nos ha ido el compañero
a la tierra de las sombras,
el que el rey mismo trató de callar
y las fuerzas del imperialismo
trataron de desplazar.
De voz franca y veraz
aunque no bien hablado o cortés
tal vez no se lleve bien con San Pablo
ni aun con su héroe Bolivar
pero estemos seguros que Jesús y María
le perdonan su falta de gracias sociales
por la consciencia social que tenía.

© Rafael Jesús González 2013

Goodbye brother Hugo 
to Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías

The comrade has left us
for the country of shadows,
the one the king himself tried to silence
and the forces of imperialism
tried to displace.
Of a voice frank and truthful
though not well spoken or polite
perhaps he’ll not get along with St. Paul
nor even with his hero Bolívar,
but let us be sure that Jesus and Mary
forgive him his lack of social graces
for the social conscience he had.

© Rafael Jesús González 2013

“Eres Mi Flor, Eres Mi Canto” by Edward Vidaurre
“Ahh The Constitution !!!!” by Tim Wozny
“Las Expresiones De Mi Madre/My Mother’s Words... La Guerra Mexicana-Americana/The Mexican-American War" by Leticia Diaz-Perez
“Adiós Hermano Hugo” por Rafael Jesús González “Goodbye Brother Hugo” by Rafael Jesús González

Born in East L.A., CA in 1973, Edward Vidaurre writes poetry about his upbringing and experiences of living in the barrio. Raised in Boyle Heights in the projects of Aliso Village, his poetry takes you through his memory of La Lucha. Known to his friends as Barrio Poet, Vidaurre says:” Sometimes the barrio claims us, holds us by our feet like roots in its field of chalk outlines closed off by the screaming yellow tape being pulled from its soul.”

Vidaurre is the founder of Pasta, Poetry & Vino and Barrio Poet Productions. He has been nominated for a pushcart prize for his poem, "Lorca in the Barrio" and also is co-editing an anthology called "Twenty" for Newtown, CT through El Zarape Press with Daniel Garcia Ordaz and Katie Hoerth. His first collection of poetry will be published this year through Slough Press.

Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) is a card carrying New York born Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay & member of the award winning group Avotcja & Modúpue. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator/Storyteller & is on a shamelessly Spirit driven melodic mission to heal herself. Avotcja talks to the Trees & listens to the Wind against the concrete & when they answer it usually winds up in a Poem or Short Story.
Website: www.Avotcja.org
Email: AvotcjaWordpower@Avotcja.org

Tim (WoZ) Wozny
60 years old
40+ years political and human rights activist. Born and raised in the Midwest outside of Chicago now livng in California. Personal Philosophy "When I get to the point that I think I'm better than you, I have proved I am not."

Leticia Diaz-Perez was born in Virginia and grew up in Michigan.She graduated from the University of Michigan and has taught at both the univerisity level, as well as in the Michigan and New York City public school systems. One of her poems was recently selected for the University of Arizona Press Anthology, Poetry of Resistance,An Anthology of Poetry Responding to SB1070 and Xenophobia. Leticia is currently working on her first bilingual chapbook of poems, Sugar from the Sky/Azúcar del Cielo. She is honored to once again share space with los poetas de La Bloga´s On-line Floricanto!

Rafael Jesús González by Peter St.John
Rafael Jesús González (rjgonzalez.blogspot.com) was born (October 10, 1935) and raised in the bicultural/bilingual environment of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A./Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico with family on both sides of the Río Grande. Just graduated from El Paso High School, he joined the U.S. Navy in the hospital corps and served in the Marine Corps with the rank of Staff Sergeant. At the end of his military service, he attended the University of Texas, El Paso (then Texas Western College of the University of Texas) in pre-med taking time to attend the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México where he studied archaeology y Mexican literature.

During this time, he published his first poems and academic articles in English and Spanish. On receiving the bachelor’s he decided to dedicate himself to literary studies which he did under a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a National Education Act Fellowship. He did his graduate studies at the University of Oregon.

As professor of literature and creative writing, he has taught at the University of Oregon, Western State Collage of Colorado, Central Washington State University, the University of Texas, El Paso (as Visiting Professor of Philosophy), and at Laney College, Oakland, California where he founded the Department of Mexican and Latin-American Studies. He also has taught in the public elementary and high schools under the Poets in the Classroom program. His poetry and academic articles appear in reviews and anthologies in the U. S., Mexico, and abroad; his collection of poems El Hacedor De Juegos/The Maker of Games published by Casa Editorial, San Francisco (1977-78) went through two editions. He has been nominated thrice for a Pushcart price. A selection of his moon poems, La musa lunática/The Lunatic Muse was published by Pandemonium Press, Berkeley, California in 2009.

Also a visual artist, his work has been exhibited at such venues as the Mexican Museum of San Francisco, Galería de la Raza, the Oakland Museum of California. In 1996, he was named Poet in Residence at the Oakland Museum of California and the Oakland Public Library under a ‘Writers on Site Award’ from Poets & Writers, Inc. and was chosen for the Annual Award for Literary Achievement by Dragonfly Press in 2002. In 2003, he was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English and Annenberg CPB for his writing. He was named featured poet by the San José Poetry Center, San José, California the fall of 2005. In November of 2005, he was invited to read his poetry and present a paper at the World Congress of Poets in Tai’an, Province of Shandong, China. In July 2006 he was named Universal Ambassador of Peace, Universal Ambassador Peace Circle, Geneva, Switzerland. In Spring 2007 he presented a paper and read his poetry at the 8º Encuentro Literario Internacional aBrace in Montevideo, Uruguay and in Winter 2008 in Havana, Cuba. He was named representative of aBrace in California. In October of 2009 he was honored by the City of Berkeley for his life’s work in writing, art, teaching, activism for social justice and peace, and community work. He is recipient of the 2012 Dragonfly Press Award for Outstanding Literary Achievement. He currently sits on the Latino Advisory Council of the Oakland Museum of California. He resides in Berkeley, California.
Rafael Jesús González (rjgonzalezg.blogspot.com) nació (10 octubre1935) y se crió en el ambiente bicultural/bilingüe de El Paso, Tejas, EE.UU./Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México con familia en ambos lados del Río Bravo. Recién graduado en El Paso High School, ingresó en la marina de los Estados Unidos en el cuerpo médico y prestó servicio en la infantería de marina con el rango de sargento (Staff Sergeant). Al término de su servicio militar, asistió a la Universidad de Texas en El Paso en preparación para los estudios de medicina, los cuales interrumpió para pasar a la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México donde estudió arqueología y literatura mexicana.

Durante este periodo, publicó sus primeros poemas y artículos académicos en inglés y castellano. Al recibir el bachillerato, decidió dedicarse a los estudios literarios, lo cual llegó a realizar con las becas Woodrow Wilson y National Education Act. Hace sus estudios graduados en la Universidad de Oregon.

Como profesor de literatura y creación literaria, ha enseñado en la Universidad de Oregon, Western State Collage of Colorado, Central Washington State University, la Universidad de Tejas en El Paso, y en Laney College, Oakland, California donde fundó el departamento de Estudios Mexicanos y Latino-Americanos. También ha enseñado
en las escuelas primarias, secundarias y preparatorias bajo el programa “Poetas en el Aula” (Poets in the Classroom). Su poesía y artículos académicos aparecen en revistas
y antologías en los Estados Unidos, México, y el extranjero; su colección de versos
El Hacedor De Juegos/The Maker of Games publicada por Casa Editorial, San Francisco (1977-78), ha realizado dos ediciones. Una colección de sus poemas La musa lunática/The Lunatic Muse fue publicada en 2009 por Pandemonium Press, Berkeley, California.

También artista en artes plásticas su obra se ha expuesto en tales sitios como el Museo de California de Oakland, el Museo Mexicano de San Francisco, La Galería de la Raza, el Museo de Arte Charles Ellis en Milwaukee. En 1996, fue nombrado Poeta Residente en el Museo de California de Oakland y en la Biblioteca Pública de Oakland bajo el premio “Escritores en Sitio” (Writers on Site Award) de Poetas y Escritores Inc. (Poets & Writers, INc.) y se le eligió ganador del Premio Anual por Éxito Literario de Dragonfly Press en 2002. En 2003, fue honorado por el Concilio Nacional de Maestros de Inglés (National Council of Teachers of English) y Annenberg CPB por su obra literaria. Asimismo, se le nombró Poeta Destacado por el Centro de la Poesía de San José, California en el otoño de 2005. En noviembre de 2005, fue invitado a leer su poesía y presentar una ponencia en el Congreso Mundial de Poetas en Tai’an, Provincia de Shandong, China. En julio 2006 se le nombró Embajador Universal de la Paz, Círculo Embajador Universal de la Paz, Ginebra, Suiza. En la primavera de 2007 presentó ponencia y leyó su poesía en el 8º Encuentro Literario Internacional aBrace en Montevideo, Uruguay y en inverno 2008  en la Habana. Se le nombró representante de aBrace en California. En octubre 2009 fue honrado por la Ciudad de Berkeley por la obra de una vida en escritura, arte, activismo por la justicia y la paz y labor en la comunidad. Fue recipiente del premio Dragonfly Press 2012 por éxito literario sobresaliente. Forma parte del Concilio Asesor Latino del Museo de California de Oakland, California. Reside en Berkeley, California.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. "Yunior." Junot is a one-trick pony. So many better Latino writers out there. He's an embarrassment.

That's three of the same book now. What will the fourth, "Monstro," be? Hmm....