lunes, mayo 28, 2007

Santora: Beg, Borrow, or Steal

To read Santora, I had to request a copy through Interlibrary Loan. This 2001 novel by "Resurreción Cruz" (a pseudonym) is right up my alley. Think Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate meets Ana Castillo'sSo Far from God in the Mission District ("Dolores Heights") with more than a dash of Judy Grahn's The Queen of Swords thrown in for good measure.

This novel is a lot of fun with a lot of cool saints showing up. (Of course, I disagree with her about several, but that's half the fun.)The apparition in the Mission is the bomb, and el Diablo...he's a keeper.

I wish there were more about Diva, la FTM and a bit less on Shandra la gabacha culture-vulture. Again, that's me trying to impose my desires on somebody else's novel.

The cover art (both front and back) is true to life. The names are great fun. The curanderismo is pretty sensitive.

So buy it, order it through interlibrary loan, get it before it's gone!

sábado, mayo 19, 2007

Our Lady: Virgin of Flames?

Sometimes when I have free time between classes, I roam around our campus bookstore. It's a pretty good one, an independent. Even if they don't stock my book, they have a nice mix of old and new, borrowed and blue.

So one day I saw la famosa Our Lady by Alma Lopez. On a bookcover! Of a novel!

(it previously appeared--in censored form--on Puro Teatro, an anthology of Latino plays)

I was thrilled and excited. I promised myself to remember the book title and find out more about it.

I forgot the title and author (you knew this was coming) and the next time I was in the bookstore, it was nowhere to be found! I mean, I cruised that place like a seriously focused geek, looked at every single book in every single display. I'm sure I suffered brain damage from the "college humor" section.

But no luck.

Well, today I was on amazon and got one of those, "you might also be interested in" and there it was!

The Virgin of Flames by Chris Abani. (the link is to Powells, because Amazon uses those images that are no good for swiping)

Nigerian author. Salvadoran protagonist. Chicana Art. Welcome to Los Angeles.

Designing classes for my students, and a treat awaits

I was telling L* that I was approved to teach the seminar on Queer Women of Color writing. L* wanted to know what books I was planning, and I rattled off a list. This was followed by a stern shaking of L*'s head.

"Think about your students. What do they want to read? Make it fun!" i.e., they don't want to read the tortured, tragic, and highly problematic texts that so interest me right now.

You know, I have kind of been sensing that the students are troubled by my obsession with torture, truth, repressed memories, trauma, war crimes, genocide, etc. The students in my ethnic lit class are really good sports about it all, but clearly a little positive representation would be greatly appreciated.

And in the Queer of Color class, it came to a head when I showed The Wedding Banquet and it was just met with this overwhelming enthusiasm. I was like "huh?" and the students explained "nobody died!"

Students like texts where nobody dies.

So I'm revamping my courses for next year, with the students in mind. The queer of color class, for example is going to include Carla Trujillo's What Night Brings, and an E.Lynn Harris novel, and Bino Realuyo and Craig Womack. (okay, so the last two are still haunting and yearning)

And the QWOC lit class: well, once I started making a list of books that would appeal to my students' generation, it's a pretty long list! I'm going to have to narrow it down. Felicia Luna Lemus' Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties is definitely on the list. and Jewelle Gomez's The Gilda Stories.

I'm still really upset about all the books that are out of print: Emma Pérez's Gulf Dreams, All of Chrsytos's work (I really wanted to teach In Her I Am this year and was wrecked when it wasn't available), Willyce Kim's novels. Chea Villanueva's work. (I can't find my copy of Jessie's Song anywhere, and it's driving me a little bit crazy.)

This is precisely why I need to be teaching this stuff: If the books aren't available, how will the next generation know they even existed?

I got L* a copy of Like Son for an end of the school year treat.

sábado, mayo 12, 2007

virtual retail therapy

so, today I'm craving a handbag.

gucci handbag

a really nice handbag.

If you know me, you'll know that my preferred handbag is either a rasquache bag,

rasquache bag

a canvas tote filled with yarn, or the ones given to me by my employer at a workshop or retreat, with the university's name and logo.

But in my mind, I'm thinking of that Ugly Betty episode (swag) where Christina gave Betty the gucci bag, and it made Betty so happy. It made her feel like when she was a little girl and her mother had this fabulous handbag and she gave it to Betty, and Betty strutted around all proud with her mother's handbag. That's what I'm wanting: that feeling.

This week (a tree grows in guadaljara) Betty was carrying a Lucky handbag.

Lucky brand handbag

Also very cute. Prob'ly more realistically priced. If you're used to paying money for handbags. Which I'm not. And would it give me the feeling I'm looking for?

I'm posting the pictures here, and so then it will be like i bought them.

jueves, mayo 10, 2007


tofu burrito

You should have seen my students
when I said "tofu burritos."
Cristina la Gallina
imagined a burrito
carved out of tofu
like a turkey of tofu
or spam

jueves, mayo 03, 2007

Craig Womack, Drowning in Fire

Womack's novel is brilliant. Breath-taking. Wrenching. Haunting. Rich.

Like eggs scrambled with wild onions and commodity cheese.

Not everyone will see the genius of this novel. Some people will always insist that if a book isn't EASY, it's not good.

First, though, Womack's novel is easy: easy like Sunday morning. Like the sexual fantasies of a queer teenage boy and what would actually happen if they come true.

It's also hard. Like the truly dark secrets of children who experience betrayal before they can develop trust. Like US History and that country's shameless betrayal of its on ideals on its way to capitalize off the Indians.

Like the storytelling of the elders that we all think are totally crazy until we later realize they're speaking absolute truth.

Beautiful. Inspiring. May it draw a little more from you than you were planning to give.

If you're the kind of reader who asks questions like "What does Puerto Rican nationalism have to do with lesbian identity" then you may end up scratching your head at the end of this book, because it's not the way you'll expect it to be.

For me, though, this is not only the novel I've been waiting my whole life to read, it's one that shows me how the thing is done.