Friday, June 03, 2005

Pedazos y Pedacitos

Manuel Ramos

The Hummingbird's Daughter
In The Palm of Darkness
Writing is Sacred

The Hummingbird's Daughter
Luis Urrea talks about his great new novel, The Hummingbird's Daughter, in an interview posted on The Elegant Variation. The interviewer is none other than our blog bro Daniel Olivas. Urrea makes the following point in the interview when asked whether he has created a new genre of writing that mixes magical realism with historical fact: "As far as the 'new genre' goes, I refer to Eudora Welty. She said that there is nothing new under the sun, the only thing we have to offer is point of view. So my text, which a reporter told me was baroque, is really an attempt to reproduce those fine semi-addled Mexican voices as they spin out tall tales to their children." Cool.

In The Palm of Darkness
Some time ago I reviewed books for radio station KUVO, 89.3 FM (Denver). I thought I'd dig up some of those old reviews and downsize them for La Bloga, as long as the books are still in print and they relate somehow to what goes on here on La Bloga (just what is it that goes on here, amigos?) Here's my first. Originally these reviews were three minutes long and I've cut this one back to about thirty seconds.

Mayra Montero is a Cuban writer living in Puerto Rico. The first of her several novels to be translated into English is In The Palm of Darkness, a mesmerizing tale that is dark, strange and so unsettling that it will stay with the reader well into the black night. Two unlikely men join forces in Haiti to find an elusive red frog that has disappeared from the rest of the world. One is a North American scientist, the other a Haitian guide tormented by demons that may exist only in his imagination, and very real thugs under orders from the military and police. Around their coming together Montero has crafted a story of love, sex, betrayal, violence, the occult, and the all-consuming and mysterious forces of nature. In The Palm of Darkness is set in a land that is as foreign to most North Americans as a society found on a distant planet would be, yet Haiti lies in our back yard, a place where Yankee troops have been called in to prop up a politician who had the U.S. President's blessing. The book, of course, is an allegory for many things that we in the U.S. have to start understanding, not the least of which are the explosive political, social and cultural forces that churn the waves of the Caribbean, the same waves that pound the shores of our own country.

Writing is Sacred
Checked out the Deborah Santana reading and signing of her memoir, Space Between the Stars: My Journey to an Open Heart. Nice, sincere, strong woman dedicated to peace. Her book should make a good read, especially because her experiences resonate with me as someone who also came of age in the late 1960s, matured through the 1970s, and still is looking for peace.

The bookmarks she prepared for her tour carry the following message about writing:

Writing is SACRED
S - Set goals. If you want to write, choose your highest goal and write it down.
A - Apply butt to chair. At the end of the day, if you want to write, you have to sit down and write.
C - Create a structure. Find your best working style and stick to it.
R - Read. Read many authors to see how they create.
E - Edit last; create fearlessly first.
D - Dream! If you can dream it, you can achieve it.

Deborah Santana was interviewed by Pocho Joe, DJ on La Raza Rocks, the Sunday afternoon Chicano music program on KUVO. The show airs every Sunday at 1:00 P.M. (Denver) on your radio or the KUVO website. The Santana interview should be ready for broadcast this weekend.


Anonymous said...

eudora welty said that? i think some wag (ambrose bierce) added earlier, "but there's a ton of old stuff a lot of us don't know yet." not having seen hummingbird's daughter yet, I'm wondering if Urrea picked up on anything Graciela Limon left behind in Song of the Hummingbird, or is the relationship only in titles and ethnicities?

Speaking of radio bits, ever checked out Vonnegut's "God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian"? A great little piece of imagination, provenance is little radio bits.


daniel olivas said...

urrea had worked on his novel for 20 yrs. and it's based on the actual life of his aunt. so, i suspect that there's no connection.

Anonymous said...

Graciela Limón is one of those authors who deserves a much bigger audience. She has attracted a lot of good critical comment and reviews. Song of the Hummingbird is one of my faves. Her cuz, or something like that, Martín Limón, wrote a series of books about a Chicano MP (George Sueño)in Korea (e.g., Slicky Boys, Jade Lady Burning)- Michael ever read any of those? I thought they were very good. Don't know if he is still writing. Anyone know what Graciela is up to these days? I know she taught at Loyola there in SoCal - still at it?

daniel olivas said...

i think graciela has retired...i know a younger prof. in the english department who knows her so maybe i can get to graciela that way. i wanted her to submit to the anthology i'm editing.