Friday, August 22, 2008

Books y Más

There's a nice (but short) interview at with Luciano Ramirez and Tonia Bustamante-Ramirez, owners of Latino Books y Más in Palm Springs, CA. Mr. Ramirez explains his motivation for the store, now in its fifth year, as : "I always wanted to work with books, and I've always read books in English by Latin American authors. We wanted to open a bookstore that looks like our house (and) carry books and things that Borders, Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart didn't carry." You can also watch a promotional video for the store at this link.

The store has scheduled Victor Villaseñor for a reading of Crazy, Loco Love (Arte Público, September, 2008) on October 25 at 2:00 PM. More info here.

While visiting Latino Books y Mas, or your favorite indie bookstore, you might look for Day of the Dead Crafts : More Than 24 Projects That Celebrate Día de los Muertos by Kerry Arquette, Andrea Zocchi, and Jerry Vigil (Wiley, 2008). No, it's not too early to start preparing for Día de Los Muertos, and this book offers many clever ideas including step-by-step instructions, ideas, and inspiration for a wide range of projects: calaveras; masks and skulls made from paper maché, gourds, and sugar; artistic ofrendas, or altars, to honor those who have passed; necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and more. Jerry Vigil is a well-known Denver artist who has created some iconic pieces including his Zoot Suit series of muertos, so you can expect exceptional quality in these projects for the classroom, your home, or event.

The September Harper's Magazine carries a new story from Dagoberto Gilb, Willows Village. Gilb appeared in Harper's back in 2001 with Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes: A Pocho Tours Mexico, an article that emerged from Gilb's well-known hassles with Texas Monthly. The new story contains a familiar Gilb character - the down-and-out Chicano trying to make the best of a bad situation, at risk of being his own worst enemy. But the story veers into unexpected territory, and the reader is treated to a fascinating study of human interaction at very basic levels. Desire (sensual and material) clashes with crude, almost mundane kindness, generosity, and jealousy. The story is satisfying without being over-indulgent and, as usual, Gilb's writing is crisp, clean.

I'd recommend getting a copy of Harper's just for Gilb's story. Of course, you will read more in the magazine, which also features a review of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books,by Fernando Báez (Atlas, August, 2008). By the way, Noam Chomsky said Baez's account of the massive and centuries old war against writing is “Impressive. . . The best book written on this subject.”

I hope you saw or get a chance to see the recent documentary, Writ Writer , directed by Susanne Mason, which aired on June 3 on PBS and is now making the art film/independent circuit. Dagoberto Gilb was involved in this project, too. The film tells the story of Fred Cruz, a different kind of hero of the Chicano Movement. Here's a quote from the film's website:

"WRIT WRITER tells the story of a self-taught jailhouse lawyer named Fred Arispe Cruz who challenged the constitutionality of prison conditions in Texas in the 1960s, and launched the state’s prisoners’ rights movement.

The film uses narration adapted from prison diaries, letters, legal pleadings, and courtroom testimony by writer Dagoberto Gilb (The Flowers, The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña, The Magic of Blood, and Gritos) and performed in voice-over by actor Jesse Borrego (24, The New World, Blood In, Blood Out)."

Cruz's story is enlightening and presents a part of American history that was about to be lost. The interviews with the former wardens are amazing - unrepentant racists and brutes. I came away from the movie with an image of Cruz as a tough, intelligent man who managed to rise above his personal demons to actually change the world.

There's a good summary of Cruz's life here. And a trailer for the movie here. Watch it.

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (RMFW) will present their annual Writer of the Year Panel with authors Jeanne Stein, Mario Acevedo, Carol Berg, and Robin D. Owens at the Tattered Cover LoDo (Downtown) - 1628 16th Street, Denver, CO on September 4, 2008, at 7:30 p.m. The panelists will share their insights on how-to-get published, reveal tips on honing your craft, and illuminate questions that surround the world of publishing. This event is free and open to the public.

The announcement I received about this event said this about one of La Bloga's faves:
"Mario Acevedo is an RMFW 2008 Writer of the Year nominee and the author of the Felix Gomez vampire-detective series published by HarperCollins including: The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, X-Rated Bloodsuckers, and The Undead Kama Sutra. Mario attributes his writing success to the support and advice provided by RMFW. Mario is currently working on translating his books into jive and

Keep on reading.



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Unknown said...

"Day of the Dead Crafts"

Me encanta el libro de Jerry Vigil. Por favor escríban un ensayo más largo sobre éste maravilloso recurso.

Y'all need to pimp that book!

Al Bermudez Pereira said...

Ruins of a Society and the Honorable, ISBN: 978-0578043432, is an autobiography and a story based on real life circumstances as I lived it and remember it to the best of my knowledge and recollection. Names have been changed to protect sources from reprisals and legalities. Real names contained in this book were either approved by the individuals personally; were part of a publication made available to the public and encrypted in citations or were spoken of by me in honorability; while others are based on personal opinions. This book contains incidents which took place in one day and a half while at a prison where I worked and outside the prisons environment. It then sidetracks to speak of other stories, voice opinions and reflects on my life as a young Latino growing up in Brooklyn and abroad. This book honors many who crossed paths with me during my lifetime, who inspired me and whose recognition is well deserved. Honorableness can be described in many different definitions and involve many different circumstances that led me to honor who I felt deserves to be honored, and indeed an honor for me to do so. Although 75 percent of this book is based on prison experiences, other parts of this book relates to the many life encounters we’ve all experienced in our own lives. In reference to autobiographies and real life circumstances concerning prison life, this will be Al Bermudez’s final book. Throughout this book, the actual story stops with an asterisk, (*) to voice an opinion or explain a different set of circumstances; then it continues onto the actual story with the words. (STORY CONT)

"Winner of Literary Award for 2009 Best Autobiography/Biography"
—Multicultural Literature Advocacy Group, Living in Color Literary Awards, March 20, 2010.

"Thank you for thinking of me"
—Sonia Sotomayor, United States Supreme Court Justice, February 23, 2010.

"A Prison Story/Autobiography like you have never read before"
—Michael Levine, WBAI 99.5 FM. Expert Witness Radio, March 22, 2010.

“Nominated as Finalist for the 12th Annual International Latino Book Awards”
—Jim Sullivan, Executive Director, May 28, 2010.