Sunday, November 07, 2021

Spotlight on Writer, Pat Alderete, and "Literary Uprising," an Online Reading Tuesday, Nov. 9th!


Pat Alderete, Los Angeles Writer

This Tuesday, November 9th, from 5-6p.m. (PST), Antioch University will host an online reading with five writers: Pat Alderete, Gleah Powers, Pete Hsu, Malia Márquez, and Sarah Manguso (Zoom Link: 

Today, La Bloga spotlights one of the writers reading on Tuesday: Pat Alderete.  Born and raised in East Los Angeles, Pat Alderete writes about the beauty and brutality of varrio life, rendering the complex inner worlds and strict social hierarchies of a community too seldom observed in literature.  A note on the word "varrio"--varrio spelled with a "v" is a word that comes from the community and, therefore, is particular to that life. Alderete is currently at work on a novel about Chican@ life in East L.A.  She is a proud member of Writers at Work, based in Los Angeles and led by Terry Wolverton. She is equally proud of her work on the board of The Macondo Writers Workshop, founded by Sandra Cisneros in San Antonio, Texas.  

The inner worlds Pat describes in her writing,  "the beauty and brutality of varrio life" are so very necessary to include in our Chicanx storytelling.  I interviewed Pat a few days ago, and our conversations dove deep into various topics on writing and about the rich and complex world she offers us on the page.  

Montes: Thank you so much for being with us on La Bloga.  It's about time La Bloga places a spotlight on your stories!  Tell us about your work.  

Alderete: I write what it was like growing up in East Los Angeles during the late 60s/early 70s.  My story, "Miss Edwards Comes to Dinner," (published in The Afro-Hispanic Review) describes what it was like going to a junior high school where the majority of students were Latinx but most of the teachers were not, and they had no idea how to pronounce our names, much less relate to us.  During those times, the term "culturally disadvantaged" was used to describe us and I hated it then and now.  There has never been any disadvantage to being Latinx, or for that matter, being non-white.  We come from a rich, deep culture that nourishes our souls.  

Montes:  Los Angeles is often a backstory in your writing.  What does Los Angeles mean to you?

Alderete:  Los Angeles, specifically East Los Angeles, is where I'm from and it has been my springboard to all other places.  My friend and former gang worker likes to say: "You can take the girl out of East L.A., but you can't get the East L.A. out of the girl!"  I'm happy to report that's true!

Montes:  Pride! Yes!  And what is your latest writing project?

Alderete: I'm writing a novel based on my varrio experiences. I call it "authentic fiction" because, although not fact-based, it is true. It's been a challenge going back to those times, because I spent so much of my life getting away from the pain of it.  I do enjoy remembering the warmth of friendship and the intensity of relationships.

Montes:  And when you are "back to those times" in your writing, what do you most enjoy?  

Alderete:  I was surprised to find I could write about things that I couldn't talk about and I'm very grateful for that.  Being a lesbian didn't exactly fit the varrio ideal but coming out got me out.  Varrio life is extreme in ways I think many people don't realize.  I got a lot of love until I didn't. I'd like to offer a window into the complexities of being marginalized in an already disrespected group.  

Montes: We so need your perspectives, your stories!  Your work gives us a vivid description of communities that are often stereotyped or not considered at all.  What are some aspects about varrio life that you most want people to understand?

Alderete: I want people to know that we all bleed, we all suffer, and we take delight in the things we can.  I remember writing the story, "Fire," about a developmentally challenged guy, and the cruelty he experienced.  I was so afraid to tell that story, afraid it would be used to further stereotype us as ruthless and cruel.  As it turned out, it had a universal appeal--everyone knew someone like Fire.  It was eye opening!

Montes: "Fire" is definitely one of my favorite stories that is told with such love. Your use of description and dialogue take the reader to a deep understanding of what it means to be human-- and you provide a window to a world many have never experienced.

Alderete:  I was there.  The people I write about lived, they all had stories. So many have been dead for so long, and they're just dead.  I want people to know they existed, with needs, frustrations, hopes, and most were unrealized.  

Montes:  Thank you so much, Pat.  It is wonderful having you here on La Bloga.  This won't be the first and only time!  We look forward to reading your novel when it's out!  In the meantime, join us on Tuesday to hear Pat Alderete read from new work!

If you'd like to read more of Pat Alderete's stories, below are anthologies where her stories have been published:

"Fire" by Pat Alderete is published in Hers 3: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers

Pat Alderete's story, "Plush Pony" is in love, west hollywood: reflections of los angeles

Pat Alderete's story, "Victor the Bear" is in Hers 2: Brilliant New Fiction by Lesbian Writers

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