Thursday, May 05, 2022

Chicanonautica: The Hazards of Writing While Chicano

by Ernest Hogan

I finally got to the end of Zyx; Or, Bring Me the Brain of Victor Theremin. I’m not finished -- there’s still a lot of brutal pick&shovel editing to do. Scenes will have to be rearranged. Stuff cut. Gaps filled. Stuff that most readers won’t notice. Welcome to the real work.

And now I’m thinking about what I’m going to do with a shiny new novel. Talk about Argh! I’m not satisfied with just having written something, I need it to be published, and read, and to be out there messing with people’s minds. Buhuhahahahahaha!

I’m not a humble “minority” writer. (I don’t like the word, it implies that we don’t matter and the big, important “majority” can safely ignore us. Do so at your own risk, pendejos!) It ain’t enough to be obscure, a hero among an elite group of barrio intellectuals. Every time I write something, I expect it to shake the world. Really. I see my books as bestseller material, and potentially, movies/TVseries/franchises.

Yeah, cabrones, go ahead and laugh.

When I was getting started, back in the antediluvian 1970s I didn’t think that my ethnicity would be an issue. The Chicano movement had just happened, and I thought the denizens of the publishing industry were the most progressive, intelligent people on the planet. Imagine my shock when they treated me like the most talented leper they had ever met.

After bashing myself bloody on this stumbling block for many a decade, I’ve come to realize that the English language book biz, centered in New York considers culture, pop and otherwise, to be of and about white folks. And even when they indulge in books by and about “others” they seem to be made to appeal to this perceived audience. Note American Dirt.

I suppose I could have taken advantage of my Irish surname, and never mention my ancestry, keep things Latinoid in my writing at a safe distance, and make sure the viewpoint characters are Anglo, but judging by the many times I’ve been called the n-word in my life, I don’t pass for white very well.

I’ve been told that things have changed, but it doesn’t seem so if you look at the bestseller lists. Guess I’ll be finding out. 

My gut tells me that the current culture, global and corporate as it has become–Hollywood is no longer a place–still has a problem with a Chicano (I’m willing to crash the Latinx party) in the driver’s seat, afraid of where we might take them. They also don’t think our audience is big enough to make the profits they need. I’ve had to argue with them that, yes, goddamit, I actually do exist.

So, I’m bracing myself for the beating I’ll get running this gauntlet. I wonder if I should call this Chicano-centric satirical work science fiction, or dare pass it off as mainstream, or even (shudder) Literature. 

Might as well go for the gold. I ain’t getting any younger. And a wad of cash would allow me to retire and spend more time writing.

If once again I’m told that what I’ve written is too weird for New York, I’ll go back to the small presses, the underground, where I always keep one foot planted, so when the shit hits the fan, I’ll have a place to stand.

Ernest Hogan is the critically-renowned, unrepentant Father of Chicano Science Fiction. He is merrily running amok. Oh yeah, Feliz Cinco de Mayo . . .


Unknown said...

Thank the Goddess you remain true to my friend. We have enough same-same White-bread stuff. I can't wait to buy your latest. Slainte!

Anonymous said...

Good luck!

Richard Shannon said...

Groovy! I for one am glad to stuck to being you. Can't wait to read the new one!