Friday, May 11, 2007

The release of Marta Acosta’s latest novel, Midnight Brunch

Last year we were treated to Marta Acosta’s debut novel, Happy Hour at Casa Dracula (Pocket Books), that genre-bending tale of aspiring writer Milagro De Los Santos who was bitten by more than love. Well, De Los Santos is back in Acosta’s newest novel, Midnight Brunch, also from Pocket Books.

Booklist says: “This sexy, sardonic siren is unlike the usual romantic-suspense heroine, and unique and alluring Milagro will continue to amaze readers in Acosta’s terrific new adventure.” And Publishers Weekly offers this praise: “Acosta doesn't spare the cilantro or the jalapeño in this addictive combo plate of romance and vamp satire.”

For upcoming book signings and other events, visit Acosta’s website. Also follow Acosta’s take on literature by visiting her blog.

◙ Greenhaven Press’s educational series, Social Issues Firsthand, will be releasing this June a new book on hate crimes. I’m aware of this because the editor reached out to me regarding an essay I wrote for the Jewish Journal regarding the 1999 shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center where my son used to attend summer camp. The publisher describes this much-needed book series:

“Behind policy debate over welfare reform, AIDS funding and hate crime laws are people -- people struggling with poverty, illness and discrimination. Illuminating the often -- neglected human side of society's pressing problems, Social Issues Firsthand is a must-have series containing personal realities that broaden and balance readers' exposure to current social issues, such as homosexuality, poverty and suicide. Each anthology in the series presents a diverse collection of personal narratives written by individuals with first-hand experience in the topic being discussed, either as a participant, a witness or an involved professional. Terrorism, for example, includes the perspectives of terrorists, victims, families of victims and emergency workers.”

For more information on Hate Crimes and to view the book’s table of contents, visit the press’s website. I receive no additional compensation for this book…I just wanted folks to know about this very important educational tool.

◙ Manuel Muñoz’s second short-story collection, The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, has just been released by Algonquin Books. Publishers Weekly says: “Muñoz writes with restraint and without pretension, giving fearless voice to personal tragedies.” His first collection, Zigzagger (Northwestern) was published in 2003 to glowing reviews. My reviews of Muñoz’s new book will appear soon in the El Paso Times and the Multicultural Review.

◙ Gronk Book Signing: Max Benavidez, author of Gronk, the first volume in the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center’s A Ver: Revisioning Art History series, and the artist will autograph copies of the book at two signings this month. On Friday, May 18, 7:00 p.m., Benavidez and Gronk will be at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd, W. Hollywood, CA 90069. The second signing will be Saturday, May 26, 5:00 p.m., at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027. If you missed my El Paso Times review of the book, visit here.

◙ Rosa Martha Villarreal’s new novel, The Stillness of Love and Exile, will be officially released by Tertulia Press on May 15, 2007. The book is currently available at the press’s website. For a review of the novel, visit here. Villarreal edits the literary journal, Tertulia Magazine. Villarreal has two upcoming events in Southern California:

May 26, 3:00 - 4:00 p.m., book signing in Montclair, Borders Books

May 27, 3:00 - 3:30 p.m., presentation in Pico Rivera, Borders Books

For more information or to arrange book signings and presentations, visit Tertulia Press's events calendar.

◙ Sandra Cisneros has unveiled her newly designed website. And, oh, it looks beautiful. She has a nice introduction to her work which begins:

“I know most of you would like to know a little about how I write and what inspired me to write the books you have read. I want you all to know I am busy working on several projects, including a book on how I teach writing, autobiographical essays that might answer all your questions and maybe a few you didn't even ask. This book is titled Writing in My Pajamas, and I don't know when I will finish it, but I do know I am a very slow writer, and I don't write at all on the days I wear shoes and comb my hair. In other words, I am a writer when I stay home, don't see anyone, don't talk too much (which for me is very hard), and am quiet enough to hear the things inside my heart.”

The home page also includes this breathtaking photograph by John Gay. Drop on by and take a tour.

◙ In last Sunday’s El Paso Times, Rigoberto González reviewed the poetry collection, Friday and the Year That Followed (Fairweather Books, $13.95 paperback) by Juan J. Morales. He says: “This ambitious book of poems taps into the psyche of legend and the necessity of storytelling, and succeeds in commemorating family history. As a first book, Friday and the Year That Followed holds much promise for future accomplishment.” Read the full review here.

◙ Call for Submissions: A second book of poems will be coming out from the late Chicano poet Andrés Montoya, whose first book, The Ice Worker Sings and Other Poems (Bilingual Press) won the American Book Award. Montoya was a brilliant young poet, a Chicano mystic, who died before he got a chance to see his book come out. His bold, lyrical style has been a great influence on young writers from California’s Central Valley and beyond. There are at least two prizes in his name, one from the MFA program at California State University, Fresno and the other from Notre Dame University. Before he died, Montoya was working on a second book, which will be released soon. In the Grove (, founded by poet Lee Herrick, is the literary journal where some of Montoya’s poems first appeared. The Fall 2007 issue will be dedicated to the second book, publishing for the first time some of these posthumous poems.

Please submit work that is either influenced by or identifies with Andrés Montoya. Especially welcome are homenaje, an homage to the man/the work, such as non-fiction reflections on encounters with him or with his work, his spirit. All submissions will be considered for an anthology tentatively titled 2nd Coming.

Deadline for In the Grove is August 1, 2007.

Please send work to:

2nd Coming
Attn: Daniel Chacón or Verónica Guajardo, editors
904 Mesita Dr.
El Paso, TX

For further information, visit In the Grove.

◙ The new issue of Indiana English is now out. Indiana English is published by Indiana State University and is a journal dedicated to the teaching of English and language arts. This special issue is edited by Aaron Michael Morales, an Assistant Professor of English at Indiana State. He notes in his introduction that Indiana English periodically publishes an entire issue of fiction and poetry: “As we see it, what is the purpose of a journal dedicated to teaching English and writing if we cannot occasionally showcase the results of successful teaching?” This issue includes the work of Paul Martínez Pompa, Raymond Beltrán and others (I have a couple of little poems included, too). For submission guidelines, visit Indiana English’s website.

◙ MacArthur Park Showdown: Over at the LA Weekly, Daniel Hernandez offered a May 2nd piece on the LAPD’s clash with immigrant-rights marchers the day before. Hernandez begins:

“Until Tuesday, the immigrant-rights movement had been defined by its buoyant, almost jubilant nature. Immigrants and their supporters had marched peacefully by the millions for more than a year in cities and towns across America, celebrating the dignity of their lives and their cause. All that changed on May Day in L.A.’s MacArthur Park. As the planned rally wound down on the park’s north soccer field Tuesday afternoon, a ruckus drew attention to the southeastern edge of the park, where LAPD officers were forming a line to guard the middle of the street. More cops standing shoulder-to-shoulder menacingly holding batons drew more onlookers, which drew more cops, which drew more onlookers…”

The rest, as they say, is history. Hernandez has been keeping us up to date with this unfolding scandal at his blog.

Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature (University of New Mexico Press), edited by Dagoberto Gilb, continues to garner praise. Writing for the San Antonio Current, B.V. Olguín notes:

“Latina/o writers have been writing about Texas and the broader world since before the Alamo existed, producing important correctives to mainstream histories and enabling broader insights into culture and society through their own complex visions and, of course, contradictions. Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature, the first anthology of its kind, documents this contribution and breaks new ground on the old battlefields of race, culture, language, and genre.”

To read the entire review, visit here. Other recent reviews have appeared in The Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express-News, and El Paso’s Newspaper Tree.

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