Friday, September 16, 2005

Pedazos y Pedacitos

Manuel Ramos

Happy Independence Day!

A new book from Benjamin Alire Sáenz, classics from Gabriel García Márquez and Richard Vasquez, the Smithsonian and PBS Honor Hispanic Heritage Month, including a new CD Songs of the Chicano Movement, and more Katrina Relief, this time a request for books.

New Books (or New Covers)
The prolific Benjamin Alire Sáenz - poetry, children's literature, fiction - has published a new book, In Perfect Light (Rayo).

The publisher says: "From award-winning poet Benjamin Alire Sáenz comes In Perfect Light, a haunting novel depicting the cruelties of cultural displacement and the resilience of those who are left in its aftermath.

In Perfect Light is the story of two strong-willed people who are forever altered by a single tragedy. After Andrés Segovia's parents are killed in a car accident when he is still a young boy, his older brother decides to steal the family away to Juárez, Mexico. That decision, made with the best intentions, sets into motion the unraveling of an American family."

From reading the jacket blurb, I get the sense that this book's themes are reminiscent of Sáenz's previous outstanding novel, The House of Forgetting - the effect of an abrupt, violent upheaval on a child's life, and salvation through confrontation with the truth.

Rayo also is reprinting Saenz's first novel, Carry Me Like Water, in a trade paperback edition.

In passing I note that Rayo also recently published new trade paperbacks of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and Chicano by Richard Vasquez. The publicity blurb for Chicano says: “A bestseller when it was published in 1970 at the height of the Mexican-American civil rights movement, Chicano unfolds the fates and fortunes of the Sandoval family, who flee the chaos and poverty of the Mexican Revolution and begin life anew in the United States.”

PBS to Offer Special Programming for Latino Heritage Month September 15 - October 15, 2005
Chicano Literature appears in various PBS programs during this month - some of it has started already. Go to this link for details; some of the programming features Luis Valdez, the Taco Shop Poets, Chicano music icons Lydia Mendoza and Lalo Guerrero, and a great little movie, Come And Take It Day, which tells the story of the century-old legend of the lost treasure of Tejano folk hero Gregorio Cortez and how it changes the lives of four present-day Texans, each working in a tourist trap restaurant on the San Antonio Riverwalk. I saw this flick at the XicanIndie Film Festival, last year I think, and recommend it highly.

Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement
California singer-composer Daniel Valdez and Texas accordion-driven Conjunto Aztlán will be performing Chicano musical milestones from the 1960s to 1990s at a concert marking a new Smithsonian Folkways Recordings release, Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement. The concert also kicks off the Smithsonian’s commemoration of the fortieth anniversary of the Delano Grape Strike, which includes a panel discussion on September 27. The live concert will be held Friday, September 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Carmichael Auditorium at the National Museum of American History on Constitution Avenue at 14th Street, NW in Washington, D.C. It is free to the public, and no reservations are required.

This event is sponsored by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings along with the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies and the Smithsonian Center for Latino Initiatives. Daniel Valdez and Conjunto Aztlán both are among the artists on the compilation album, Rolas de Aztlán. The CD’s release date is September 13, and it will be available at all major music outlets as well as on the Folkways website at For more information about Hispanic Heritage Month and the many events throughout the Smithsonian Institution including the panel discussion, please go to .

From the Mystery Bookstore (Los Angeles) Newsletter:
"The victims of Katrina need many things, including books. If you can make a donation, we suggest First Book, which seeks to put books into the hands of disadvantaged children. They currently have a special drive for HURRICANE RELIEF: Every $5 donated to First Book will be matched with 1 book that will go to children in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. For more information, visit their website, , or contact them at:
First Book
1319 F. Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1155
Phone: 202/393-1222 Fax: 202/628-1258."



Anonymous said...

Great post.

Just seems like a lot of good stuff coming out about us, and most of it, by us.

Can this signal the demise of cultural appropriation?


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't hold my many of us are making the big decisions, holding the big feria, etc.

Still, we do need to work/create like we have won!