Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Reyna Grande At IMIX Books in NELA

A photographer attends a novelist's reading.

Michael Sedano

Sadly, I learned only a day before, that IMIX Books scheduled a signing with Reyna Grande for Saturday, July 15. A signing is an ideal social event to plan a big pachanga around. Of the usual suspects, only Manuel was able to join me. Not Manuel Ramos, another Manuel.

Manuel was on his way to the Hollywood Bowl that evening, and brought his two teenage daughters. The girls had never attended a reading, so the IMIX event was extra special because of this. The girls were happy to attend, and as an extra treat, shake the author's hand. I wish I'd taken their picture then; what a great souvenir.

Grande keeps her audience spellbound. She's a wonderfully expressive speaker who weaves personal details into her narrative of writing the novel. For instance, she read the first chapter of Across a Hundred Mountains, and told how she got the chapter during a trip to Mexico where a friend told her the story of an immigrant relative, bitten by a snake, who was left in the desert by the coyote. "The Migra will find him" was the smuggler's theory. When the Migra did not arrive, the man died. In Grande's novel, the man's daughter comes upon the grave and madly begins removing rocks in an effort to see her father's face, even as the Migra is heading their way. Reyna does a masterful reading that captures the character's fervid intensity.

La Bloga Bloguero Daniel Olivas recently shared his view and others' of Across a Hundred Mountains. That was prior to the novel's release. Now that the novel has become widely available, you can get a copy and understand why so many readers speak highly of the novel.

I was so totally engrossed in the writer's presentation that I didn't shoot many images. But here's a plea from a photographer to all authors. Hide those beverages! True, it's my fault for getting to my seat in the front row too late to move the bottle myself, but not every photog occupies a front row seat. Also, authors, make it a point to hold up the book every now and again for a photo of your cover. Finally, bookstore owners and authors, set up the signing in a side-by-side seating, or move the author's chair to the end of the table, to avoid the type of shot on the right of the tryptych, a reader's back an author's face.

Images ASA 800, 1/8 f 5.0.

Thanks for your suggestions. I put Saving the World atop my stack and am enjoying the heck out of Julia Alvarez' novel. I invite you who've read the novel to share your own views here at La Bloga. Anyone for a guest column? How about sending in your review of Saving the World, or Across a Hundred Mountains, or another notable work? You can email me directly with the piece, or leave a comment of interest, and I'll contact you.

A ver who wants to be our guest.

Pending that, see you next week.



daniel olivas said...

wonderful report on reyna's reading. having shared the reading stage with her last year, i, too, was moved by her presentation. this is a "must read" novel.

andrea said...

Michael - I'd be happy to write a review of Saving the World! I've lurked at La Bloga long enough :) Could have it for you by tonight. I'll look at the other ones posted but you can let me know if there are any specifications to hit. I'm at dr_andrea AT yahoo.

reyna grande said...

HI Michael, Thanks for the tip about moving the water, holding up the book, and rearranging the signing area! I'll be sure to do that this Saturday at my reading at Tia Chucha's! Let's have lunch again with Daniel sometime soon.