Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Plague-time Casualty Rebound: Backyard Floricanto

Michael Sedano

In past years, Casa Sedano has hosted numerous authors in our Living Room Floricanto and Backyard Floricanto. We had to cease celebrating with the pandemic. We're shut-ins, so that cessation had an extra sting.

Pandemic recovery appears on track to allow a resumption of non-family gatherings of people who follow mask and distance safeguards. What a relief. Zoom offered a telecommunication-transportation trade-off that was cool--todo el mundo had living room floricantos on the phone. 

Nothing supplants the immediacy, la cultura, of readers and audiences sharing a poem or story. And this Summer, they're back. 

Here's a column from 2016 when Casa Sedano hosted Jesus Salvador Treviño's launch party for his short fiction collection, Return to Arroyo Grande. A great time we had, and the joy multiplied later when Treviño's book went on to win an American Book Award that year.

The spate of heavy rain exhausted itself and overnight the weather turned Southern California gorgeous. And since it looked like Spring had sprung early and was here to stay, people planned outdoor events, like the publication party for Jésus Salvador Treviño’s Return to Arroyo Grande.

As the day for the gathering of friends and readers approached, Pasadena skies clouded and rain threatened to wash out the reading and move it indoors. The hosts, Barbara and Michael Sedano, were bummed because Plan B, moving indoors, would challenge space and seating plans.

Treviño appreciated Sedano’s La Bloga review of Return to Arroyo Grande, the most recent in the author’s trilogy of speculative and fantasy stories. Treviño shared the column at Latinopia, where Treviño publishes excerpts from his exhaustive video and film archives, while advancing Chicana Chicano arts and literature through essay, interview, and review.

In the process of sharing the file we agreed that Treviño would do a reading at Casa Sedano. Treviño would record it and share it at Latinopia. Pick a date. That was in November.

Time, weather, hour, planning, calendars, all came together just right. The slight overcast that day offered perfect illumination for photography; clean clear light with no hard shadows.

This was a party of friends, most of them writers and storytellers.  Guests had come intending to  relax, hear a reading, and celebrate the writer's achievement.

Nonetheless, the afternoon calls to mind the importance in a book’s life of marketing. Hitting the hustings doing readings and signing books gets the book in front of its readers and launches good word-of-mouth. All manner of salutary effects on writer, reader, and book result from a relaxed event and a good reading.

Treviño put a lot of work into the reading, crafting his presentation with a flair. He selects a gruesome outer limits-style story and does characters. He growls with practiced vocalics in an author’s endeavor to extract every ounce of drama from the scene. One imagines Treviño wrestling with that text when he was writing it, now he's wrapping it around his tongue for rapt listeners, he ponders has he muted the horror enough but given it possibility?

The story and the author’s interpretive reading draw appropriate shivers and “Uyy” responses from the attentive guests. They talk about it afterward.  Another day, when they read the story, they will hear the author's voice again, re-experience this moment of delight.

Jesus Salvador Treviño's Return to Arroyo Grande should already be on the shelf of any reputatbly stocked independent bookseller. The bookseller, or you, can get your copies directly from Arte Publico Press.

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