Monday, February 11, 2008

The Rain God: An Inscribed First Edition

Thanks to the wonders of the Web, I recently purchased an inscribed first edition of The Rain God (Alexandrian Press, 1984) by the late Arturo Islas. As you can see, the copy is a bit beat up (i.e., it has been read). And as you can also see (below), it was inscribed in October 1986 by Islas to “my tocallo, Arturo.” The misspelling of “tocayo” is endearing (unless, of course, there is another spelling of "tocayo" of which I am not aware...feel free to correct me on this).

Islas was born in 1938 in El Paso and earned his undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees from Stanford University, where he continued as a professor of English. Islas was driven: a member of Phi Beta Kappa, he was also a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a University Fellow, as well as a recipient of the Lloyd W. Dinkelspeil Award for outstanding service to undergraduate education at Stanford. In a life cut short by AIDS, Islas wrote Migrant Souls (HarperCollins), the companion novel to The Rain God, a year before he died at home in Stanford in early 1991. At the time of his death, he was at work on a third novel, the posthumously published La Mollie and the King of Tears (University of New Mexico Press, 1996).

This is the description of The Rain God from the subsequent publisher, Harper Perennial:

“Already a Southwestern classic as beautiful, subtle and profound as the desert itself Arturo Islas's The Rain God is a breathtaking masterwork of contemporary literature. Set in a fictional small town on the Texas-Mexico border, it tells the funny, sad and quietly outrageous saga of the children and grandchildren of Mama Chona the indomitable matriarch of the Angel clan who fled the bullets and blood of the 1911 revolution for a gringo land of promise. In bold creative strokes, Islas paints on unforgettable family portrait of souls haunted by ghosts and madness--sinners torn by loves, lusts and dangerous desires. From gentle hearts plagued by violence and epic delusions to a child who con foretell the coming of rain in the sweet scent of angels, here is a rich and poignant tale of outcasts struggling to live and die with dignity ... and to hold onto their past while embracing an unsteady future.”

◙ My review of Dagoberto Gilb’s new novel, The Flowers (Grove Press), appeared yesterday in the El Paso Times. For Gilb's complete book tour schedule (including several readings this week in Southern California such as this appearance at Librería Martinez on Friday at 7:00 p.m.), click here.

Tu Ciudad investigates the Latina plastic surgery boom: All right, we know that La Bloga readers are the most beautiful gente around. But, for those of you who wonder about those "others" who do go for a little nip-n-tuck, the February issue of Tu Ciudad reveals the increasing trend of Latinas going under the knife for cosmetic enhancements. Nationally, Latinos make for 8% of the 11 million plastic surgeries in the U.S., up 5% from 2000 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Locally, Latinos account for 22% of plastic surgery patients.

The February issue also includes a profile of Cristobal Arreola, looking to make history as the first Mexican-American heavyweight-boxing champion. And staff writer Dennis Romero revisits the L.A. Archdiocese sexual abuse scandal through the stories of three Latino victims.

All this and more is available in the latest issue of Tu Ciudad magazine, sold at newsstands and stores throughout Southern California including Ralphs, Vons, Rite-Aid, Barnes & Noble, and Borders throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Visit the magazine's website for more information.

Aztlán (published by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center) has been selected as the Journal of the Month by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) for the month of February. Aztlán will be featured on the CELJ website. CELJ is the leading international organization of scholarly journal editors.

◙ Well, he finally did it: Al Martinez, award-winning and beloved columnist for the Los Angeles Times, is now a blogger! This is his site. Why has he finally ventured into the blogoshere? Al explains:

“There are some subjects, as a columnist for the Times' California Section, that I am no longer allowed to consider in the paper. My comments must be confined to matters that pertain to the Golden State. Just back from a month in India, I felt frustrated not being able to write about the wonder and glory of the trip, so I will eventually employ these means to do so.”

◙ The paperback edition of Lost City Radio (HarperCollins) is finally out so Daniel Alarcón will be doing a few readings in the San Francisco Bay Area. For information regarding the schedule, click here. Lost City Radio was chosen as a best book of 2007 by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, among others.

◙ All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadres at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!


Gonzalo Barr said...

"Nationally, Latinos make for 8% of the 11 million plastic surgeries in the U.S., up 5% from 2000 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Locally, Latinos account for 22% of plastic surgery patients." Locally, as in L.A.? I bet Latins count for 60% of the plastic surgery performed in Miami. OK, OK. I meant 75%.

Daniel Olivas said...

So, instead of working on your novel you're writing funny comments on La Bloga? Oh, Gonzalo. What are we going to do with you? Of course, maybe you can work this plastic surgery thing into your book.

Gonzalo Barr said...

Ouch! Point taken. (What a tough task master you are!) Back to work.

Daniel Olivas said...

Dedicate your novel to me.

Corina Carrasco said...

I too am fortunate enough to have an inscribed first edition of Islas' Rain God! I am honored to have it as one of my most treasured possessions.

Arturo was the one person that inspired me and told me that I had what it takes to be a writer. I close my eyes and I can hear his soft, sincere voice telling me, "Corina, you caught fire!"

Hang on to your copy. Es un tesoro.