Saturday, September 26, 2009

Review of Lida's First Stop; plus, Denver's youth answer Disney's High School Musical

David Lida's First Stop in the New World
book review by Beatrice Chernikoff

Ever motivated by his affection for Mexico City, David Lida presents his book First Stop in the New World, about the people and places that have shaped his own conclusion on what it means to live in the labyrinth that is el Distrito Federal.

First Stop is written in the style you would expect from someone with years of experience in journalism, with a witty and authentic voice that can inform us about Mexico City like any lifelong capitalino, and still remain refreshingly apolitical. He is not afraid of clarifying the truth behind the "Walmart next door to the Pyramids" rumor, or the exaggeration of the frequency of kidnappings. Want to know the truth behind these two sensational stories? Then read this book.

Lida's literary style comes through his investigative narrative, (and evokes his other career as a short story writer), filled with characters that are fodder for stories in their own right, as he admits. He recounts details as varied as Mexico City herself--how the culture drives the sexuality of the inhabitants; how the city inspires ingenious ways for people to become entrepreneurs; and how the urban landscape even affects what and how people eat.

Lida is clearly in love with the city he calls home, and like a passionate lover, the City can sometimes hurt the one who loves her: readers will be jarred by Lida's composed, calm testimony about his ordeal as a victim of an "express kidnapping." It would have been easy for anyone to write about this with certain bitterness, but Lida did not let this experience keep him away from el D.F.

As a chilangophile myself, I am happy to find that as joyously overwhelming as Mexico City is, Lida's book is not improvised like the very lives and urban sprawl he writes about; it is carefully composed with ringside accounts of someone who has been there and stayed to tell the stories, without the insular judgment of an infrequent tourist "surviving among the natives." The book reads less like generic publications on Mexico and closer to literary journalism, which makes First Stop in the New World a book worth reading multiple times, both for its smooth prose and the startling metropolis it chronicles.

David Lida will be talking about Mexico City at college campuses and bookstores in the US. All events are free and open to the public:

09/23/09 Los Angeles, CA
Loyola Marymount University
Time: 4:30pm
Location: University Hall, Ahmanson 1000, 1 LMU Dr.

09/24/09 Los Angeles, CA
USC at Los Angeles
Time: 2:00pm
Address: Social Sciences Building B-1, 3520 Trousdale Parkway

09/25/09 Santa Ana, CA
Centro Cultural de México
Time: 7:00pm
Location: 310 West 5th St. (5th & Broadway)

09/26/09 Pasadena, CA
Vroman’s Bookstore
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: 695 East Colorado Blvd.

09/28/09 Palo Alto, CA
Stanford University
Time: 12:00pm
Location: 582 Alvarado Row

09/29/09 San Francisco, CA
Get Lost Books
Time: 7:00pm
Location: 1825 Market St.

10/1/09 Chicago, IL
Loyola University, Crown Center Auditorium at Lake Shore Campus
Time: 4 pm
Location: 6525 North Sheridan Rd.

10/1/09 Chicago, IL
Stop Smiling Book Events
Time 7 pm
Location: 1371 North Milwaukee Ave.

10/2/09 Chicago, IL
University of Chicago Center for Latin American Studies, Kelly Hall 117
Time: 12 pm
Location: 5848 South University Ave.

10/06/09 Philadelphia, PA
Temple University
Time: 12:30pm

David Lida is a native New Yorker who has lived in Mexico City for more than 15 years, is an author of two previous books (one in Spanish) and a journalist for more than 20 years. Continuing his earlier spring presentations, he is currently presenting a series of lectures on Mexico City in California, Chicago and Philadelphia.

For more info go to here.

If you are interested but unable to attend David Lida's talk on Mexico City, then click on this two-part interview by Gregg Barrios. On this interview you can hear David Lida talk about the book's premise as well as the art and political scene in Mexico City. Barrios also asks him about the Mexican perspective on US policy on immigration. (part 1) (part 2)


Denver high school youth on stage

From Jose Mercado at CU Denver comes the following:

"I encourage you to attend this show written by high school youth in ArtLab (a collaborative effort of PlatteForum & Labyrinth) and performed by ArtLab with students from CU Denver's College of Arts & Media. This show is a realistic, raw and entertaining examination of life in high school with music. A "High School Musical" it is not!"

The University of Colorado Denver's Department of Theatre, Film and Video presents the world premier of I.Am.Here. As a response to Disney's High School Musical and other Hollywood high school melodramas, I.Am.Here. provides the audience with a raw taste of what it takes to survive a day in today’s urban high school. The students offer an insightful, poignant and honest examination of today's complex teenage life.

The play follows the teens though a day at school, full of hall sweeps, hanging out, and humorous discussions about the truth of the opposite sex. They present an honest face to urban teenage struggle that includes teenage pregnancy, alcoholism at home, interracial dating, economic hardship, and violence.

I.Am.Here. dives into race issues that shape the lives of students’ choices and beliefs. The youth draw you into their sometimes raw, sometimes touching...and always-truthful portrayal of high school life.

I.Am.Here. fuses the efforts of high school and higher learning. Performed by the culturally diverse group of high school youth that created the stories, "I.Am.Here." is also an autobiographical look at their own struggles and triumphs as high school students in Denver.

The show is directed by Assistant Professor Jose Mercado and scripted by Associate Professor Craig Volk, both in the UC Denver’s Department of Theatre, Film & Video Production.

Remaining performances are Saturday Sept. 26; and Wednesday-Saturday Sept. 30-Oct. 3. Curtain is 7:30pm.

Tickets available at or at


Lydia Gil on UniVision

Lastly, if your Spanish is better than mine, check out La Bloga contributor Lydia Gil's article on how Latino authors are making inroads into the U.S. literary scene--and winning awards in the process--on UniVision's website. It's entitled
Escritores latinos viven auge en EE. UU. You make us proud, Lydia!

1 comment:

ColoradoDenver said...

We have a few college students online from college of University of Colorado Denver and we love your blog postings, so well add your rss or news feed for them, Thanks and please post us and leave a comment back and well link to you.Thanks Jen,Blog Manager
University of Colorado Denver