Friday, October 02, 2015

New Books: Anaya, Hijuelos, Stavans - October Schedule

Manuel Ramos

New books by recognized masters expanding their artistic spheres, digging deep into their creativity.


 Poems From The Río Grande
Rudolfo Anaya
University of Oklahoma Press - August, 2015

I previewed this book in an earlier post, click here; however, I write about it again because it is a work that deserves special attention.

The book gathers poetry Anaya has written over several years. The majority of the pieces in this collection have not been published previously.  There are, however, a few that readers of Anaya will recognize, such as Elegy on the Death of César Chávez and The Adventures of Juan Chicaspatas. A few are in Spanish; some are lengthy prose poems; several highlight Anaya's well-known humor and wit.

Anaya said in a recent interview that he wrote poetry before he wrote fiction, and that  he had a "poetic instinct" that eventually turned to novels. As noted in the Foreword to the book, written by Robert Con Davis-Undiano, "Anaya's poetry is elegant in its intensity and in its wide-ranging treatment of the myths of the Southwest, Mexican American folklore, the legacy of César Chávez, Christmas traditions in New Mexico, and the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris transplanted to the Southwest, among others.  Whereas his novels and plays deal with the furthest reach of issues relating to life in the Américas, contemporary values, and directions in contemporary culture, the poems focus on similar issues on a smaller scale, and sometimes under a microscope, in ways that will be even more accessible to a great many readers."

In these poems I found a vision of nature that only someone who is one with nature could portray.  There is love and loss and musings about old age, death, chile and the llano. Now that fall is here, the poems are even more alive. The words are true.

From Water:

I guess I am a poet, because
water runs in my soul.
I cannot stop it.
I dare not. I am
becoming green ...


Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise
Oscar Hijuelos
Grand Central Publishing - November, 2015

[from the publisher]
Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos, is a luminous work of fiction inspired by the real-life, 37-year friendship between two towering figures of the late nineteenth century, famed writer and humorist Mark Twain and legendary explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

Hijuelos was fascinated by the Twain-Stanley connection and eventually began researching and writing a novel that used the scant historical record of their relationship as a starting point for a more detailed fictional account. It was a labor of love for Hijuelos, who worked on the project for more than ten years, publishing other novels along the way but always returning to Twain and Stanley; indeed, he was still revising the manuscript the day before his sudden passing in 2013.

The resulting novel is a richly woven tapestry of people and events that is unique among the author's works, both in theme and structure. Hijuelos ingeniously blends correspondence, memoir, and third-person omniscience to explore the intersection of these Victorian giants in a long vanished world.

From their early days as journalists in the American West, to their admiration and support of each other's writing, their mutual hatred of slavery, their social life together in the dazzling literary circles of the period, and even a mysterious journey to Cuba to search for Stanley's adoptive father, Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise superbly channels two vibrant but very different figures. It is also a study of Twain's complex bond with Mrs. Stanley, the bohemian portrait artist Dorothy Tennant, who introduces Twain and his wife to the world of séances and mediums after the tragic death of their daughter.

A compelling and deeply felt historical fantasia that utilizes the full range of Hijuelos' gifts, Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise stands as an unforgettable coda to a brilliant writing career.

Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013), was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and recipient of the Rome Prize. He also received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. His nine novels have been translated into more than 30 languages


Quixote: The Novel And The World
Ilan Stavans
W.W. Norton and Company - September, 2015

[from the publisher]
A groundbreaking cultural history of the most influential, most frequently translated, and most imitated novel in the world.

The year 2015 marks the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of the complete Don Quixote of La Mancha—an ageless masterpiece that has proven unusually fertile and endlessly adaptable. Flaubert was inspired to turn Emma Bovary into “a knight in skirts.” Freud studied Quixote’s psyche. Mark Twain was fascinated by it, as were Kafka, Picasso, Nabokov, Borges, and Orson Welles. The novel has spawned ballets and operas, poems and plays, movies and video games, and even shapes the identities of entire nations. Spain uses it as a sort of constitution and travel guide; and the Americas were conquered, then sought their independence, with the knight as a role model.

In Quixote, Ilan Stavans, one of today’s preeminent cultural commentators, explores these many manifestations. Training his eye on the tumultuous struggle between logic and dreams, he reveals the ways in which a work of literature is a living thing that influences and is influenced by the world around it.


My Schedule

I'm appearing at several venues in the month of October.  Here's a schedule.

October 8 - 9:  Staffing the booth of the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America at the Mountain and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Fall Discovery Show,  Renaissance Denver Hotel in Denver, CO.

October 15, 6:30 - 8:30 pm:   Founder and Director of Arte Público Press, Dr. Nicolas Kanellos will give a presentation about the development of Latino literature. The presentation will be followed by a panel of Latino authors, including local authors Sarah Cortez and Gwendolyn Zepeda; and Colorado author Manuel Ramos. Celebrate Latino literature during Hispanic Heritage Month, and hear Latino authors talk about their works. The authors will be selling and autographing books at the end of the program. University Branch Library on the UH-Sugarland campus, 14010 University Blvd., Sugar Land, TX.

October 16, 6:30 pm:  Reading and signing The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories at a legendary mystery book store -- Houston's  Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet St., Houston, TX.

October 18, 4:00 - 4:45 pm:  Texas Book Festival panel -- Old New Tales from the Border.  There is not one border narrative. Authors Carlos Nicolas Flores, Manuel Ramos, and John Vaillant capture the dynamism of the America-Mexico border in these stories. From the Pancho Villa legend to dangerous border crossings to political escapades, these authors reach far beyond the stories you already know.  Kirkus Reviews Tent, 13th and Colorado Streets, Austin, TX.

October 30, 6:00 pm:  Mystery Writers Panel. Doors open and refreshments available beginning at 5:30
Come spend an evening with your favorite Colorado Mystery Writers:  Mario Acevedo, Christine Goff, Manuel Ramos, and Mark Stevens.  The authors will sell and autograph books at the end of the program. Hampden Hall, Englewood Civic Center, 1000 Englewood Parkway,Englewood, CO.


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