12.18.2010

A Quick Reading of A Good Long Way on YouTube

So, Jose B. Gonzalez one of the founding members of LatinoStories.com (an awesome resource for all things Latino/a and literature, so link to it, will you!) taped me reading from my latest short novel, A Good Long Way, and summarizing the rest of it. Click on the following link to check it out, then head straight to his site to check out what all he's got going:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=76HzZoHROhw

This was in Orlando at NCTE's annual convention. The guy is super generous, first to do this work for authors who aren't doing it themselves, myself included, and also because it was one take after another that he had to do to get even this clumsy couple of minutes. So, my hat's off to you, Jose! Mil gracias!

12.17.2010

Ofelia Dumas Lachtman and the Mystery Novel

Looking for La Unica by Ofelia Dumas Lachtman
(Arte Publico Press/Pinata Books, 2004)

I was only recently introduced to the work of Ofelia Dumas Lachtman by Marina Tristan at Arte Publico, after I asked if she knew of any detective/mystery novels out there for children or young adults by Mexican American writers. She said, "Oh, sure, there's this author we publish." She put a few of Lachtman's titles in the mail for me, and though I'm a horribly slow reader, I finally finshed Looking for La Unica (the follow-up to The Summer of El Pintor). In Unica, Monica Ramos is spending her first summer on Lucia Street where she and her dad have moved to after he lost his job in the D.C. area. She is conflicted about her new home because on the one hand it isn't her old posh neighborhood where she'd been friends with some of the girls from school but it is the place where her mother grew up. Curious like she is, she doesn't have to look for mysteries to solve, they simply find her. In this one, La Unica goes missing. Come to find out, La Unica is a guitar, but not just any guitar: it has been in the Salcedo family for a couple of generations, the product of a forefather master-guitarmaker. Accused of being one of the thieves, Monica will discover the real rat in order to prove to Mr. Salcedo that he couldn't be more wrong in putting the blame on her. The search is on, and Monica finds way more than what she sets out for originally.

So, I'll get to The Summer of El Pintor sometime during the Christmas Holidays, but right now I'm reading another of Lachtman's novels, Call Me Consuelo, a mystery for slightly younger readers than Unica as Consuelo is herself 12 years old.

12.08.2010

You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and Poems about Boys

You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and Poems about Boys by Sharon G. Flake

I finished Flake's second collection that works as a companion to her first collection, Who Am I Without Him? This one focuses on boys, while the first one deals with the lives of girls. She also includes poems in this latest work documenting snippets of boys existences. I have to be honest: I wasn't as impressed by this book as I was Who Am I Without Him? There doesn't seem to be the depth there is in the previous title. There is the first poem, from the perspective of multiple young men, each asserting his respective existence, that I like. If you visit Flake's internet site, you'll find a video made by five young men who perform the poem, and it is that much more powerful because you can see the different voices (that is, who is speaking) as well as hear them. And for me, only one of the stories is memorable: "My Hood." It is about two best friends on a day out in North Philly's heat. The two boys make their way to a fire in the area, take a dip in a pool without the family's permission, join a craps session, meet up with some fine Philly girls, eat and dance at a block party, swim in a local pool, watch a fireworks show, then head home. It might not seem like much of a story, but it is about friendship of the best kind: the narrator describes his friendship with Elliot, a kid with fire and emotional issues: "This is why I like Elliott. He's braver than I am. Funny and loyal, too. You can't give up on someone like that just because their mind don't work like yours" (163). The story takes place on July the 4th in Philadelphia. It can't be about anything but independence.

The collection as a whole doesn't necessarily work for me, but the tidbits that I do like, I like a lot.