"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Monday, May 31, 2010

Lone Star Noir Edited by Bobby Byrd & Johnny Byrd

Akashic Books, whom we spotlighted yesterday, will publish another book in their noir series, this one focusing on Texas. Lone Star Noir will be edited by El Paso's Bobby Byrd & Johnny Byrd will be published in November 2010.

Featuring brand-new stories by: James Crumley, Joe Lansdale, Claudia Smith, Ito Romo, Luis Alberto Urrea, David Corbett, George Weir, Sarah Cortez, Jesse Sublette, Dean James, Tim Tingle, Milton Burton, Lisa Sandlin, Bill Crider, and Bobby Byrd.

Launched with the summer '04 award-winning best seller Brooklyn Noir, Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies. Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.


"YOU CAN DRIVE AROUND TEXAS FOR A LONG TIME and never meet J.R. Ewing (Dallas) or Woodrow McCall (Lonesome Dove). The real Texas hides out in towns and cities like you'll find in these stories in Lone Star Noir, and in that very Texas reality, among the everyday good folks of Texas, you'll find the understanding of guns and dope and blood money and greed and hatred and delusion that makes these fourteen stories come alive on the page.

Sure, you might catch a glimpse of J.R. and old Woodrow Call, like a shadow at the edge of your sight, feel their heat at your back, catch a whiff of the dead flowers which are their Texas dreams.

This is basic food stuff for a Texas writer telling a story, but the story must always stay true to its place and the people who live there. That's the strength of these stories in Lone Star Noir--the particular place they come from, the language that the characters speak. Yes, they are piece of the larger puzzle which is Texas, but they are more true to the piece of ground they reveal. Texas, in all its many places, bleeds noir fiction . . ."

Forthcoming November 2010

It came to my head that some of you don't know what noir is. Noir is a French word that mean black. Now, I'm not the expert, but much of mystery fiction that has that narrator in the background like in the film noir

Now something can be film noir and not be a mystery or detective story, Double Indemnity, the example. If you remember the Mike Hammer TV series or even on the humorous side, Police Squad and the Naked Gun. This genre often has a femme fatale. Garrison Keillor gives a weekly script about his Deteictive Guy Noir on A Prairie Home Companion. Listen here.

Anyways, I can't be your English teacher, so read and listen for yourselves.

Tomorrow, Are Chapbooks losing there chaparitoness?


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Press Spotlight: Akashic Books

Akashic Books

Akashic Books is a Brooklyn-based independent company dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers. 

This press has published writers such as Ron Kovic,Amiri Baraka, Lalo Arcaraz, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and more.

Akashic has a series of original noir anthologies. Each book is comprised of all-new stories, each one set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.

They have published a successful noir series from different cities including: LA, Orange County, Indian Country, Moscow, Baltimore, Boston, Bronx, Brooklyn, Chicago, D.C., Delhi, Detroit, Dublin (Ireland), Istanbul (not Constantinople), Las Vegas, Havana, London, Manhattan (NY not Kansas), Mexico City, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Phoenix, Portland, Queens, Richmond, Rome, San Frans, Seattle, Toronto....let me take a breath....Trinidad, Twin Cities, Wall Street.

Forthcoming cities include: Barcelona, Copenhagen, Lagos, Haiti, Mumbai, Pittsburgh, and San Diego. Also, is one called Lonestar Noir, edited by El Paso's Bobby and Johnny Byrd.

Here are a few of their Latino and Carribean titles below:
Edited by Sarah Cortez & Liz Martinez 

Step into Indian Country. Enter into the dark welter of troubled history throughout the Americas where the heritage of violence meets the ferocity of intent. The protagonists of these stories--whichever side of the law they're on--use their familiarity with Indian cultures to accomplish goals ranging from chilling murder to a satisfying participation in the criminal justice system.

Authors with Indian heritage or blood join non-Indian authors in creating stories in settings as diverse as the terror-ridden atmosphere of the Indian boarding schools to the dubious sleaze of contemporary casinos.

Sarah Cortez (coeditor), a law-enforcement officer, is the award-winning author of the poetry collection How To Undress a Cop. Cortez coedited with Liz Martinez the fiction anthology, Hit list: The Best of Latino Mystery. She brings her heritage and blood as a Tejana with Mexican, French, Comanche, and Spanish to the written page.

Liz Martinez's (coeditor) stories have appeared in Manhattan Noir, Queens Noir, and Cop Tales 2000. She is also the author of the nonfiction book The Retails Managers Guide to Crime and Loss Prevention and her articles about security and law enforcement have appeared in publications around the world. She is a member of Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers and she lives in New York.

Lesser Tragedy of Death by Christina Garica.

We already spotlighted this book. Go to:

Anna In-Between
ISBN: 978-1-933354-84-2
a novel by
Elizabeth Nunez

Anna In-Between is Elizabeth Nunez's finest literary achievement to date. In spare prose, with laser-like attention to every word and the juxtaposition of words to each other, Nunez returns to her themes of emotional alienation, within the context of class and color discrimination, so richly developed in her earlier novels.

Anna, the novel's main character, who has a successful publishing career in the U.S., is the daughter of an upper-class Caribbean family. While on vacation in the island home of her birth she discovers that her mother, Beatrice, has breast cancer. Beatrice categorically rejects all efforts to persuade her to go to the U.S. for treatment, even though it is, perhaps, her only chance of survival. Anna and her father, who tries to remain respectful of his wife's wishes, must convince her to change her mind.

Elizabeth Nunez is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College in New York City, and the award-winning author of seven novels, including Prosperos Daughter (New York Times Editors' Choice; 2006 Novel of the Year, Black Issues Book Review) and Bruised Hibiscus (American Book Award). She is coeditor with Jennifer Sparrow of the anthology Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad. Nunez is executive producer of the 2004 NY Emmy-nominated CUNY TV series Black Writers in America. She divides her time between Amityville, New York and Brooklyn.

Andean Express
by Juan de Recacoechea
translated by Adrian Althoff

Set in 1952, Andean Express is the story of a tragic overnight train journey that unfolds in an environment at once carnivalesque and sinister. Beginning near La Paz, Bolivia, the austere Andean plateau serves as a surreal backdrop for most of the trip before giving way to a winding descent to the Chilean coast. Ricardo Beintigoitia, a recent high school graduate from a prosperous La Paz family, unwittingly becomes ensnared in the personal drama of one of his peers, a captivating girl named Gulietta Carletti who has been forced into an arranged marriage with a man she despises.

On the Andean Express, everybody wants something and no one is exactly who he seems. Recacoechea's lean, elegant prose crackles with sharp dialogue and entertaining exchanges among a disparate cast of characters, each with his own ax to grind. The train is a microcosm of Bolivia itself, with people from all walks of life, from peasants to politicians, forming a circus of personalities and intrigue in which tragedy seems inevitable, and improbable liaisons become reality.

Juan de Recacoechea was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and worked as a journalist in Europe for almost twenty years. After returning to his native country, he helped found Bolivia's first state-run television network and dedicated himself to fiction writing. His novel American Visa won Bolivia's National Book Prize, was adapted into an award-winning film, and was translated into English and published by Akashic Books to great critical acclaim.
a novel by Achy Obejas
ISBN: 978-1-933354-69-9 

"Ruins is a beautifully written novel, a moving testament to the human spirit of an unlikely hero who remains unbroken even as the world collapses around him...A fine literary achievement, it's Achy Obejas at her very best."
--El Paso Times

Usnavy has always been a true believer. When the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959, he was just a young man and eagerly signed on for all of its promises. But as the years have passed, the sacrifices have outweighed the glories and he's become increasingly isolated in his revolutionary zeal. His friends openly mock him, his wife dreams of owning a car totally outside their reach, and his beloved fourteen-year-old daughter haunts the coast of Havana, staring north.

In the summer of 1994, a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government allows Cubans to leave at will and on whatever will float. More than 100,000 flee--including Usnavy's best friend. Things seem to brighten when he stumbles across what may or may not be a priceless Tiffany lamp that reveals a lost family secret and fuels his long repressed feelings . . . But now Usnavy is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Revolution that has shaped his entire life.

Achy Obejas is the author of various books, including the award-winning novel Days of Awe and the best-selling poetry chapbook This Is What Happened in Our Other Life. She is the editor of Akashic's critically acclaimed crime-fiction anthology Havana Noir, and the translator (into Spanish) for Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Currently, she is the Sor Juana Writer in Residence at DePaul University in Chicago. She was born in Havana and continues to spend extended time there.

Havana Lunar
a Cuban noir novel by
Robert Arellano
ISBN: 978-1-933354-68-2 

One hungry, hallucinatory night in the dark heart of Havana, Mano Rodriguez, a young doctor with the revolutionary medical service, comes to the aid of a teenage jinetera named Julia. She takes refuge in his clinic to break away from the abusive chulo who prostituted her, and they form an unlikely allegiance that Mano thinks might save him from his twin burdens: the dead-end hospital assignment he was delegated after being blacklisted by the Cuban Communist Party and a Palo Monte curse on his love life commissioned by a vengeful ex-wife. But when the pimp and his bodyguards come after Julia and Mano, the violent chain-reaction plunges them all into the decadent catacombs of Havana's criminal underworld.

Inspired by fifty years of Cuban noir, from the Cold Tales of Virgilio Pinera to Reinaldo Arenas' Before Night Falls, Arellano's Havana Lunar intertwines an insider testimony on the collapse of socialist Cuba with a psychological mystery that climaxes in the eye of Hurricane Andrew.

Robert Arellano's parents fled Havana in 1960. He has been working on Havana Lunar since 1992 when, as a student in Brown University's graduate writing program, he visited Cuba on a research fellowship. He has returned ten times, chronicling the Revolution in journalism, essay, and song. He is the author of two novels, Fast Eddie, King of the Bees and Don Dimaio of La Plata, both published by Akashic.

South by South Bronx
a novel by Abraham Rodriguez
ISBN-13: 978-1-933354-56-9

When Puerto Rican ladies' man Alex awakes one morning to find a mysterious woman in his bed, he assumes he's suffered another embarrassing blackout. He soon learns, however, that Ava is no one-night stand--in fact, he's never met her before. As her story begins to unfold, and her reason for appearing in his bed emerges, it is not just Alex's life that she risks, nor her own, but the entire character of the South Bronx .

Abraham Rodriguez was born and raised in the South Bronx. His first book, The Boy without a Flag, was a 1993 New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His novel Spidertown won a 1995 American Book Award and was optioned by Columbia Pictures. His next novel, The Buddha Book, was published by Picador in 2001. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany

Havana Noir
edited by Achy Obejas
ISBN-13: 978-1-933354-38-5

Brand new stories by: Leonardo Padura, Pablo Medina, Alex Abella, Arturo Arango, Lea Aschkenas, Moises Asis, Arnaldo Correa, Mabel Cuesta, Paquito D'Rivera, Yohamna Depestre, Michel Encinosa Fu, Mylene Fernandez Pintado, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, Miguel Mejides, Achy Obejas, Oscar Ortiz, Ena Lucia Portela, Mariela Varona Roque, and Yoss.

To most outsiders, Havana is a tropical sin city: a Roman ruin of sex and noise, a parallel universe familiar but exotic, and embargoed enough to serve as a release valve for whatever desire or pulse has been repressed or denied. Habaneros know that this is neither new--long before Havana collapsed during the Revolution's Special Period, all the way back to colonial times, it had already been the destination of choice for foreigners who wanted to indulge in what was otherwise forbidden to them--nor particularly true.

In the real Havana--the lawless Havana that never appears in the postcards or tourist guides--the concept of sin has been banished by the urgency of need. And need--aching and hungry--inevitably turns the human heart darker, feral, and criminal. In this Havana, crime, though officially vanquished by revolutionary decree, is both wistfully quotidian and personally vicious

In the stories of Havana Noir current and former residents of the city--some international sensations such as Leonardo Padura, others exciting new voices like Yohamna Despestre--uncover crimes of violence and loveless sex, of mental cruelty and greed, of self-preservation and collective hysteria.

Achy Obejas is the award-winning author of Days of Awe, Memory Mambo, and We Came all the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This? Her poems, stories, and essays have appeared in dozens of anthologies. A long-time contributor to the Chicago Tribune, she was part of the 2001 investigative team that earned a Pulitzer Prize for the series, "Gateway to Gridlock." Currently, she is the Sor Juana Writer-in-Residence at DePaul University in Chicago. She was born in Havana.

The Uncomfortable Dead
(What's Missing is Missing)

A Novel of Four Hands by
Paco Ignacio Taibo II and Subcomandante Marcos
l ISBN: 1-933354-07-0 

In alternating chapters, Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos and the consistently excellent Paco Ignacio Taibo II create an uproarious murder mystery with two intersecting storylines. The chapters written by the famously masked Marcos originate in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico.

There, the fictional "Subcomandante Marcos" assigns Elias Contreras--an odd but charming mountain man--to travel to Mexico City in search of an elusive and hideous murderer named "Morales." The second story line, penned by Taibo, stars his famous series detective Hector Belascoaran Shayne. Hector guzzles Coca-Cola and smokes cigarettes furiously amidst his philosophical and always charming approach to investigating crimes--in this case, the search for his own "Morales."

The two stories collide absurdly and dramatically in the urban sprawl of Mexico City. The ugly history of the city's political violence rears its head, and both detectives find themselves in an unpredictable dance of death with forces at once criminal, historical, and political. Readers expecting political heavy-handedness will be disarmed by the humility and playful self-mocking that runs throughout the book.

Subcomandante Marcos is a spokesperson and strategist for the Zapatistas, an indigenous insurgency movement based in Mexico. He first joined the guerrilla group which was to become the Zapatistas in the early 1980s. Marcos is author of several books translated into English, including the award-winning children's book Story of the Colors (Cinco Puntos) and Our Word Is Our Weapon (Seven Stories Press).

Paco Ignacio Taibo II was born in Gijon, Spain and has lived in Mexico since 1958. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, which have been published in many languages around the world, including a mystery series starring Mexican Private Investigator Hector Belascoaran Shayne (a protagonist in this book as well). He is a professor of history at the Metropolitan University of Mexico City. He has won various literary prizes, including the National History Award from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History.

Spy's Fate
by Arnaldo Correa
Mystery | Trade Paperback
ISBN 1-888451-65-3

Spy's Fate is a smart, scandalous portrayal of the inept misadventures of post­Cold War U.S. and Cuban intelligence operations. At the center of the novel is Carlos Manuel (alias Roberto), who for two decades has built his reputation--and guarded his anonymity--as a Cuban special services agent in Africa and Latin America. When his wife dies, he returns to Havana to discover his country's economy in disarray, along with its intelligence infrastructure. Widowed and jobless, he finds himself completely alienated from his children, and from the country he has served.

After his kids embark on a disastrous raft ride to the U.S., Carlos Manuel steals a yacht and sails after them into the stormy Atlantic. A last-minute decision saves his children, but leaves him stranded in Miami--just one step ahead of the CIA, for whom he is a murder suspect, and Cuban Intelligence, who mistakenly believe he has defected. Complicating matters is Sidney King, a maniacally vindictive CIA bureaucrat. The hunter becomes the hunted as Carlos finally encounters his old nemesis--and the ravaging violence of his former life.

Arnaldo Correa was born in the Escambray Mountains, Cuba, in 1935. In 1966, he published his first book of short stories, which were praised by Fidel Castro. Correa is considered one of three founders of the Cuban crime-fiction genre. The 2002 hardcover edition of Spy's Fate (Akashic) was his first novel in English translation, followed in 2003 by the highly acclaimed Cold Havana Ground. Correa currently lives in Havana.

Now there are many more titles by Latino authors on this press. They are currently not accepting submissions, so I will not bother you with that. Especially reet is books of Lalo Arcaraz' comics.
Follow Akashic Books on Facebook.

More Monday on the Lonestar Noir edited by Bobby Byrd!


Saturday, May 29, 2010

El Paso Writer Update #3: Tanya María Barrientos

 Tanya Maria Barrientos

The last update I had from Tanya Maria Barrientos was that she had left the Philidelphia Enquirer. That was back in 2007. Barrientos had been working in journalism for 20 years.

Barrientos is the author of several books: Frontera Street  (New American Library, New York, NY, 2002) and Family Resemblance (New American Library, New York, NY, 2003.

Her  fiction was awarded the prestigious Pew Fellowship in Arts in 2001 and also the Pennsylvania Council in the Arts Fellowship.

Born in Guatemala and raised in El Paso, Texas, Barrientos graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism with a BJ degree. She has led numerous national writing seminars and has taught both fiction and non-fiction writing classes at the University of Pennsylvania and Bryn Mawr College. 

I could not tell, but I think she's currently on the faculty of the University of Southern Maine in their MFA program. 


Friday, May 28, 2010

Honors for John Haddox: 50 years of professorship

This past March (2010), the University of Texas at El Paso honor Dr. John Haddox for his 50 years of professorship at the University of Texas El Paso.

Many of us activists know John Haddox for his association with UTEP MEChA and many other causes throughout the years.

Colleagues put on a 2-day conference in his honor and included such presenters as Mimi Gladstein, poetry reading by Rafael Jesús González and Ben Saenz, presentation by Juan Ferret, Elizabeth Pando, Crisol Escobedo, Marilyn Verney, Lee Stauffer, Jon Amastae, Gabe Camacho, Carlos Sanchez, John Siqueiros, Jules Simon, Richard Jarvis, Howard Daudistel, and Carmen Haddox, wife of John Haddox. 

The event also included a dinner that raised funds for the establishment of the Dr. John Haddox Endowment to promote excellence in the Department of Philosophy. 

The keynote speaker at the dinner was Oscar Marti, will present a Keynote Address on behalf of Haddox. Marti, a Cuban-American philosopher, works in Chicano Studies and Philosophy at California State University at Northridge and has known Haddox for over 30 years. He is the current president of the Society for Iberian and Latin American Thought. 

I personally love this professor, and in my studies and research about the Chicano Movement at UTEP, I ran across Haddox name more than once and was able to get Haddox oral history. Felipe Ortego once call Dr. Haddox the only "non-Chicano Chicano on the Chicano Faculty." 

Haddox is the author of Vasconcelos of Mexico: Philosopher and Prophet, and Antonio Caso: Philosopher of Mexico and for many years thought the Chicano Philosophy class at UTEP. I remember when MEChA brought Lalo Delgado in the late 1990s, I was taking Haddox' class and Lalo was a guess lecturer.

Haddox is one of the major academics who brought Jose Vasconcelos, Antonio Caso, and other Mexican philosophers to the attention of the U.S. philosophy arena.

The UTEP philosophy department has always been somewhat a center for rebellion UTEP. In my oral history, I asked Haddox how it turned out that way and he said, "Because I recruited them." 

I remember Dr Haddox, Dr. Norma Hernandez, and others protesting in front of the UTEP administration building when Dr. Diana Natalicio was named president of the university and for the way the secretive hiring process was done. Dr. Haddox, as well as Dr. Springer, were some of those who went to the county jail in support of the 30 arrested Chicano students in 1970 after the takeover of the UTEP administration building.

Dr. Haddox has been supportive of Chicano Students when many times, professors who are Chicano were not. I know it is easier for a professor with tenure to support controversial causes. And I know its easier for White professors to support controversial causes at the university level then Chicano professors, but professors like Haddox who stand up are becoming a rare breed.

Congrads to Dr. Haddox!

You can see more information about what happen at this event at: 

There was a book released about the work of John Haddox. More on that later.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story

A bit off the path, but about an El Pasoan...

This book came out in 2005, with the paper back out in 06. 

Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story  
(World Wrestling Entertainment 2006 ISBN-10: 141650553)
(Paperback), Eddie Guerrero, Michael Krugman

One of the most inspiring stories in wrestling history, Cheating Death, Stealing Life sees El Pasoan Eddie Guerrero recount his saga in remarkably candid fashion, chronicling a life of heartbreaks and painful personal struggles in frank, graphic detail.

Guerrero was born into Mexico's first family of sports entertainment. His father, Gory Guerrero, was a Mexican wrestling legend. Before Eddie turned twenty, he was wrestling in Mexico. 

Soon Guerrero was blowing away fans as part of the upstart Extreme Championship Wrestling.

World Championship Wrestling was looking for innovative new talent, and Guerrero's unique style fit the bill. 

Unfortunately, the backstage politics of WCW kept Guerrero away from the spotlight. Eddie sought solace from the pressures of life on the road by living hard and partying harder. Even a series of drug overdoses and a near-fatal car accident could not change his ways. 

When a group of wrestlers opted to leave WCW, Guerrero joined them, signing with World Wrestling Federation. 

Unfortunately, a freak injury in Guerrero's debut match took him out of the action. Upon his return, Eddie was paired with Chyna, which launched his indelible Latino Heat character.

However, years of the wrestling lifestyle, of nightly partying and frequent injury, led to addictions to both alcohol and painkillers. 

Guerrero spent four months in a rehabilitation facility. Sadly, he had not yet hit bottom. A relapse into alcohol abuse resulted in a DUI conviction and the loss of his job. 

Though Guerrero had lost everything -- his family, his money, his job -- he never allowed himself to lose his pride. Eddie returned to the independent circuit, where he regained his reputation as one of wrestling's most electrifying performers.

Guerrero searched deep within himself and fought to regain the life he had lost. His journey of self-discovery reawakened his relationship with Jesus Christ, and he found peace and strength in the Bible.

Before long, World Wrestling Entertainment offered Guerrero a second chance. From the moment of his return, it was clear he was instilled with a new focus and passion. With his nephew, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Eddie made up one half of the wildly successful Los Guerreros tag team. The pair became one of WWE's hottest attractions. Ultimately, Guerrero not only regained his life, he surpassed his wildest dreams, becoming WWE Champion.

Cheating Death, Stealing Life offers a no-holds-barred glimpse into the secret world of wrestling. It's also the story of Guerrero's private struggle, of a son caught in the shadow of a larger-than-life father and three older brothers, of a marriage that reached the brink of disintegration before being reborn. 

Throughout, Eddie Guerrero pulls no punches describing his battles with self-doubt and inner darkness. 

Sadly, in November of 2005, Eddie died due to complications of a heart condition. Cheating Death, Stealing Life is a story of great courage and personal redemption.



Sunday, May 23, 2010

Small Press Spotlight: San Diego's City Works Press


This weeks Press Spotlight is on City Works Press out of San Diego

The publishers of Rita and Julia by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Atacama Poems by Adrian Arancibia, Vox Saxophonos by Luis Omar Lopez, San Diego City Works Press is an independent press in San Diego, California.

The press started as a publication of City Works, a journal for poetry, fiction, prose, and artwork of City College students as well as work by local and national writers. After ten years of publishing, they thought it was time to create a small press, in 2003 they formed the San Diego Writers Collective, a group of City College faculty and writers and arts supporters from all around San Diego. Though sprung from City College, they funded it through local support.

The press' interests include local, ethnic, and border writing as well as formal innovation and progressive politics.  

 "Our purpose is to put out both first chapbooks by talented student writers and novels, creative non-fiction, and collections of short fiction and poetry by professional writers. We are not bound by commercial considerations nor are we looking to mimic the world of academic publishing. City Works Press is committed to creating a literary culture in a city where no press dedicated to the publication of local writing exists," states their mission.

City Works Press says its a "collective" in that they all contribute part of the funds and labor that go into each publication and the money made from their sales goes toward the publication of subsequent books.  

You can see their writing submission by clicking HERE .

They started the Ben Reitman Award. This is a cross-genre competition for emerging writers who have not yet been published. The winner of the award gets up to 200 pages of their poetry, fiction or non-fiction published and distributed with an initial 500-1,000 copy run.

Here are a few books from this press:

Lavanderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Words
Edited By: Donna J. Watson, Michelle Sierra, and Lucia Gbaya-Kanga

This anthology initiates us into one of the most sacred domestic rituals of our mundane world—the purging of physical and psychic stains, or the art and work of doing laundry. The writers' voices rise above the sounds of washing machines, non-televised daytime dramas, and laughter. Removing the clothespins from their mouths, these women reveal their secrets, fears, loves, and regrets in poem and story form. As finely detailed as the vintage sleeve of a rummage sale find, the work in "Lavanderia" brings the circle closer to home as you find yourself nodding and remembering and thanking every woman who ever sat next to you in a laundromat and made conversation.

Peeping Tom Tom Girl
By Marisela Norte

Peeping Tom Tom Girl is the first collection of poetry by Marisela Norte, the incredible and audacious spoken word poet from Los Angeles. Winner of San Diego City Works Press's Ben Reitman Award, this collection of Norte's poems takes her readers on fantastic journeys into the heart and soul of what it means to be Chicana, human, a woman in 21st Century Southern California. 

Rita and Julia
By Jimmy Santiago Baca
Rita and Julia is an extraordinary collection of poetry that takes the reader from the depths of despair through outrage to transcendent joy. In these searingly intense poems, Baca inhabits the subjects of his poems and makes them sing.

Atacama Poems
By Adrian Arancibia
Long before maquiladoras and transnational migrations, there were pampinos who worked mines owned by American companies in Latin America. Their lives are inspirations, their toils directions of where the spirit can survive. Atacama Poems offers reminders of the importance of fulfilling dreams and remembering those who made them possible. A multi-generational family album, where voices carry like echoes.

A groundbreaking and innovative collection of San Diego/Tijuana writing edited by Jim Miller co-author of Under the Perfect Sun featuring:  Jimmy Santiago Baca, Mike Davis, Marilyn Chin, Steve Kowit, Sandra Alcosser, David Reid, Mark Dery, Victor Payan and Perry Vasquez, minerva, reg. e. gaines, Adrian Arancibia, Hal Jaffe, Sue Luzzaro, Jimmy Jazz, and many more…
  "Here is a chance, with Sunshine/Noir, to discover a new bright world of writing.  Bravo!”
 - Ray Bradbury

"At one time, borders were a challenge.  They were part of nature; rivers, mountains, and passes. And humans accepted this challenge with a spirit of adventure, magic, and mystery.  But now our borders are man-made and we demand that no one cross them. Yet, in reading the stories found in Sunshine/Noir, maybe we can re-learn that there is still great magic, adventure and mystery, when we dare to cross these modern borders."
 - Victor Villaseñor, author of Rain of Gold, and, Burro Genius: A Memoir

Vox Saxophonos
Luis Omar Lopez
A surreal rant.  Vox Saxaphonos is Dada poetry for the postmodern age.  Luis Omar Lopez has written "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" like T.S. Eliot in the midst of a psychotic break.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Smeltertown and a Book we Missed for May: Recovering the Hispanic History of Texas


We missed one for May, so make sure to check out this new book. Since it is edited my Monica Perales, history professor at the University of Houston and UTEP graduate, we might as well mention her forthcoming book on Smeltertown this coming fall.

Arte Publico Press will release Recovering the Hispanic History of Texas (Arte Publico Press May 31, 2010 ISBN-10: 1558855912) edited by Monica Perales and Raul A. Ramos.

This book includes eight essays examining the dominant narrative of Texas history and seek to establish a record that includes both Mexican men and women, groups whose voices have been notably absent from the history books.

Finding documents that reflect the experiences of those outside of the mainstream culture is difficult, since historical archives tend to contain materials produced by the privileged and governing classes of society. The contributing scholars make a case for expanding the notion of archives to include alternative sources.

By utilizing oral histories, Spanish-language writings and periodicals, folklore, photographs, and other personal materials, it becomes possible to recreate a history that includes a significant part of the state's population, the Mexican community that lived in the area long before its absorption into the United States.

These articles, originally presented as part of the Hispanic History of Texas Project's first conference held in conjunction with the Texas State Historical Association's annual conference in 2008, primarily explore themes within the field of Chicano/a Studies.

Divided into three sections, Creating Social Landscapes, Racialized Identities, and Unearthing Voices, the pieces cover issues as diverse as the Mexican-American Presbyterian community, the female voice in the history of the Texas borderlands, and Tejano roots on the Louisiana-Texas border in the 18th and 19th centuries.

In their introduction, editors Perales and Ramos write that the scholars, in their exploration of the state's history, go beyond the standard categories of immigration, assimilation, and the nation state. Instead, they forge new paths into historical territories by exploring gender and sexuality, migration, transnationalism, and globalization.


For those of you not from El Paso...let me take a step back, those of you from El Paso and not from El Paso, Smeltertown was a town near the ASARCO smelter right on the border on the Rio Grande. There are various "Smeltertowns" all over the United States. We are refering to the one that was near El Paso.

                                         Smeltertown, El Bajo

Most of Smeltertown as since been torn down with exception of La Calavera. Know as "La Smelta," "La esmelta," "La sali," "Sal si puedes," it was made up of "el bajo," "La Calavera" which still exists, lo de "arriba," and the Smeltertown Cemetary.

                                            Entrance sign to La Calavera off Executive Blvd. 
                                                        and Paisano. Photo from

                                              Map of La Calavera. Hwy 85 is Paisano Drive. San Marcos Dr. off Exe-
                                                         cutive Center Blvd. is La Calavera
La Calavera is just off of Executive Blvd. If you turn onto Executive from Paisano Drive, the entrance San Marcos Dr., where the above sign use to be, is to the immediate right. 

                                                          Arial photo of La Calavera from

                                           Two photos above from the Altman Collection, 
                                                         El Paso Public Library

Buena Vista
                                            Map above of Buena Vista. The River
                                            below is the Rio Grande and Sunland Park,
                                            New Mexico

Closely associated with Smeltertown is the enclave of Buena Vista near the "bridge to nowhere" near across I-10 from Sunland Park Mall.

Say you are driving east on I-10, pass the Sunland Park exit and look right (south). You'll see a playground right after an overpass. That overpass is the famous bridge to nowhere, which I heard was constructed by mistake. There, you'll see Buena Vista.
A few years ago when I put a a call for person who lived in some particular barrios of El Paso, I received several calls complaining that I did not include Smeltertown. I told these callers, many of them Smelta former residents, that a good book on the subject has already been done. 

The Cemetery
Rich Wright has an essay "Smeltertown Cemetery" that was published on The Newpapertree regarding the Smelter Cemetary. It also has some good photographs. There is also a KTSM story on the Smeltertown Cemetery Clean Up.

I remember an El Paso Times issues that had Jose Antonio Burciaga posing at this cemetery. I think he had some family buried there.

Old and New books on Smeltertown

I was referring to Monica Perales thesis, Smeltertown: A Biography of a Mexican Community (2003) and her M.S. thesis Between the burro and the smelter : the formation of Mexican American community and identity, Smeltertown, TX, 1915-1945 (1996). There is also a self-published book Smeltertown (2004)  by historian Fred Morales, however, as with most of Morales work, his sources are not given. Nevertheless, Morales' self-published book is a good read if you are looking for a non-academic read.

Carlos Flores also had a short story called "Smeltertown" that was published in Pieces of the Heart: New Chicano Fiction, edited by Gary Soto on Chronicle Books (1993). Jose Antonio Burciaga also has an short story called "Mando, La Luz, and Esmelta" in his famous Drink Cultura: Chicanismo book.

Here's the good news, Monica Perales will be releasing Smeltertown: Making and Remembering a Southwest Border Community  
(The University of North Carolina Press September 2, 2010 ISBN-10 080787146X).

Book Description
Company town. Blighted community. Beloved home. Nestled on the banks of the Rio Grande, at the heart of a railroad, mining, and smelting empire, Smeltertown--La Esmelda, as its residents called it--was home to generations of ethnic Mexicans who labored at the American Smelting and Refining Company in El Paso, Texas.

Using newspapers, personal archives, photographs, employee records, parish newsletters, and interviews with former residents, including her own relatives, Monica Perales unearths the history of this forgotten community. 

Spanning almost a century, Smeltertown traces the birth, growth, and ultimate demise of a working class community in the largest U.S. city on the Mexican border and places ethnic Mexicans at the center of transnational capitalism and the making of the urban West. 

Perales shows that Smeltertown was composed of multiple real and imagined social worlds created by the company, the church, the schools, and the residents themselves. Within these dynamic social worlds, residents forged permanence and meaning in the shadow of the smelter's giant smokestacks. Smeltertown provides insight into how people and places invent and reinvent themselves and illuminates a vibrant community grappling with its own sense of itself and its place in history and collective memory.


Friday, May 21, 2010

El Paso Writer Update #2: David Carrasco; Border Poets Reading in LA, May 23 / Gilb in Harper's Magazine

Our last update in Pluma Fronteriza about David Carrasco was about his book with the University of New Mexico Press:

Carrasco on Mexican Archeologist

David Carrasco has put out Breaking Through Mexico's Past: Digging the Aztecs with Eduardo Matos Moctezuma (Hardcover)(University of New Mexico Press Feb 16, 2007 ISBN 139780826338310) with Leonardo López Luján and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. 

 This is biography of Mexico's award-winning archaeologist, Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, is based on a series of interviews conducted by Davíd Carrasco and Leonardo López Luján, respected Mesoamericanists in their own right. 

Born in 1940 Mexico City, Matos Moctezuma’s father was a diplomat from the Dominican Republic and his mother was a Mexican national. Thanks to his father's career, Eduardo was exposed to other cultures throughout Latin America and he learned to appreciate all that each had to offer. Carrasco and López Luján demonstrate Eduardo's determination to recover Mexico's cultural past. 

In addition to secondary archaeological projects, he recently supervised the Teotihuacan Project, where he conducted important excavations at the Pyramid of the Sun, and he is currently general coordinator of the Templo Mayor Project. He served as director of the Templo Mayor Museum (1987-2001) and the National Museum of Anthropology (1985-1987). 

Matos Moctezuma has received many awards during his career, including the first H. B. Nicholson Award for Excellence in Mesoamerican Studies from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. 

The life of celebrated Mexican archaeologist Moctezuma tells of a man rising to the challenges of life and a man who has eloquently spoken to the importance of understanding the roots of civilization. Carrasco is the Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of Latin American Studies, Harvard Divinity School and Department of Anthropology. www.unmpress.com.

                                              --- from Pluma Fronteriza, Spring 2007 
                                                  (issue available upon request, please email rayerojas AT gmail.com)

Carrasco is on faculty at Harvard University where he specializing in hermeneutics in the study of religion, Mesoamerican cities and religions, and the Mexican-American borderlands. 

He is editor-in-chief of the award-winning three-volume Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures

Carrasco has received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor the Mexican government gives to a foreign national.

His most recent publication is a new abridgment of Bernal Díaz del Castillo's memoir of the conquest of Mexico, 
History of the Conquest of New Spain (University of New Mexico Press ISBN 978-0826342874 2009). 

The History of the Conquest of New Spain by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a new abridgment of Diaz del Castillo's classic Historia verdadera de la conquista de Nueva España, offers a unique contribution to our understanding of the political and religious forces that drove the great cultural encounter between Spain and the Americas known as the "conquest of Mexico."

Besides containing important passages, scenes, and events excluded from other abridgments, this edition includes eight useful interpretive essays that address indigenous religions and cultural practices, sexuality during the early colonial period, the roles of women in indigenous cultures, and analysis of the political and economic purposes behind Diaz del Castillo's narrative.

A series of maps illuminate the routes of the conquistadors, the organization of indigenous settlements, the struggle for the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, as well as the disastrous Spanish journey to Honduras. The information compiled for this volume offers increased accessibility to the original text, places it in a wider social and narrative context, and encourages further learning, research, and understanding.



Don't miss this even on May 23, Sunday - 4 PM a the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Los Angeles


This collaboration of voices from the border states of the Southwest explores frontiers of identity and richness of language. Poets include AMALIO MADUEÑO author of Lost in the Chamiso (Wild Embers), MARIA MIRANDA MALONEY editor/publisher of Mezcla: Art & Writing from the Tumblewords Project (Mouthfeel), LAURA CESARCO EGLIN author of Llamar al Agua por Su Nombre (Mouthfeel) and El Paso poet DANIEL ELIAS GALICIA featured in Mezcla. With special guest LUIS J. RODRIGUEZ, award winning Chicano writer of books in memoir, fiction, nonfiction, children's literature and poetry. Hosted by Richard Modiano.


Dagoberto Gilb in Harper's Magazine

Check out Dagoberto Gilb's story "Willow's Village" on Harper's Magazine's online site.


On the blog for next week: Book review of biography of Forty Minutes of Hell: The Extraordinary Life of Nolan Richardson by Rus Bradburd