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

Octavio Romano

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Apostle Paul and Chicano(a) Literature - Painting of Lalo Delgado Unveiling, Updates on Ruben Salazar, Gilb, Mario T. Garcia, Cinco Puntos Press, Summer Reading Lists

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The Apostle Paul 
Chicana(o) Literature

When we talk about the biblical canon, the New Testament enthralls me. Other than the books we have, there are tons of other writings that did not make it into the canon.

Some are borderline, other really far-fetched. Some gnostic and others from unknown sects and cults of Christianity.

How does what survived to be included the biblical canon compare to Chican(o) Literature and what has/will survived. When I say survived, I am meaning for example, what was published 30-40 years ago survives in the what people read presently.

Last week, I went to the public library to find some book published in 1980 and 1970 so that I could scan their covers.

When I could not locate Crazy Gypsy, I went to the information desk. The clerk looked. I asked if it might be lost and she said it is a possibility if it had not been checked out in a long time. Crazy Gypsy had not been checked out since the late 1980s. Un trip through the Mind Jail – 1992. Elizondo's Rosa, La Flauta, more recent, 2004.

I know this cannot be taken as a perspective on what our Raza is reading or how much, but El Paso being mostly Raza, this was pretty disappointing for me to find out. Neither should it be taken as a statement on Luis Omar Salinas and raulsalinas (Los Salinas), eran chingon los vatos. Yea, a generalization, but generalization make good conversation pieces and blog posts.

I'm sure books like House on Mango Street, which the Main Library had at least seven copies, are frequently checked out. I'm sure, one can say the same for Bless me, Ultima, but I'll have to check.

Note: Actually, as I was writing this, I check the catalog to see if House on Mango Street, Knopf edition, was checked out and virtually every copy was out. The library has some in warehouse I'm guessing to meet demand. Four copies of the Spanish translation on Vintage were all in. One out of 9 of the Vintage editions were checked out. The Arte Publico Press edition was in.

The library only had one copy of the Warner 1999 Edition of Bless me Ultima, one lost copy, and three Spanish translation, one copy of the 1992 edition on Warner, two of the original edition off Tonatiuh International and Quinto Sol.


Love Paul, Hate Paul, Pay Paul

Love him or hate him. St. Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. Thirteen of the 27 books, were written by Paul, and that's only if you believe he didn't write Hebrews. In the first few centuries of Christianity, many books and letters floated around regarding Jesus and the Apostles' “acts.” Most cherished were the letters from the disciples of Jesus, and of course, letters from Paul.

Scholars date Paul's letter among the earliest and they are were also among the most copied and distributed. Four gospels would follow as well as the Acts of the Apostles.

Just take Acts of God out of it for a second

Aside from divine intervention and dogma, what other reasons were there to choose what eventually became our New Testament?

Could it be that the better-written pieces were the ones chosen, or at least the quality of the writing was a factor in what eventually became the canon. It was the quality of the writing and maybe the writer that played a big influence in the creation of the canon.

Or maybe it was who was most popular?

I remember sitting in Lalo Guerrero's house in Cathedral City, Califas one afternoon interviewing him about his music. I asked him about his bolero “Nunca Jamas” (hear it here) which was recorded by Trio Los Panchos (hear it here; not Los Panchos but close) and later Javier Solis.

He modestly, and laughingly, said Los Panchos could have recorded “La cucaracha” in those days and it would have been a hit. Is it the same in writing; that a popular writer, regardless of the quality of the work, will be eaten up by the masses simply because it a product a a popular writer?

Now, I'm not prepared to say that Paul was the best writer of the New Testament, though some of you have told me so. Nevertheless, quality of the writing may have helped make his letters survive; the quality that made Paul's and others survive; quality that played a role in their selection for the canon.

And before their selection, the quality probably played a role in how the letters were copied, how many were copied, and more important, which ones were distributed to others. So the popular pieces may have had more copies that would eventually survive the millennium.

Maybe this played in a role in Paul's ultimate victory over James in the direction Christianity would take. For those of you that don't know what I'm talking about, James was the leader of the Jerusalem church, somewhat rival of Paul, who had theoretical differences with Paul. Power of the pen man....

There were many theological battles occurring in the first century church . Ultimately, it was Pauline Christianity that would prevail. Was it because of Paul's letters? Were their quality better than James?

In the canon, for being a head honcho of the Jerusalem church, only one letter survives from James. Perhaps there were other letters by James, maybe not readable: “neat, but I'm not going to copy it and send it to my friends: but wait for the DVD.”

The same can go for Paul. Scholars know there was a third letter to the Corinthians. Did this letter suck? Did the critics give it a bad review? Not worthy of making more copies to increase its chances of surviving the ages?

There were also a whole load of other epistles credited to apostles, and “Acts” of other apostles, and “Gospels” of this person and that. Sure some are forgeries -- some written long after the supposed author had died -- but readability probably played a big part.

What is also interesting, are books that may have been popular in the early days of Christianity, more popular than some canonical books, fail to be included in the canon today; some of these once “best sellers,” nevertheless, we fail to find a copy that survived the ages.

This is not Sunday School

Yes, I know, you're saying, Ray, I don't need this on Wednesday evening (unless you're Baptist). I can get this Sunday morning along with the "funnys": get to the point.

Okay. Who will survive years and years from now. Which Chicano(a) writers will survive? The better writers? The more popular writers regardless of the quality of their writing? The writers that have more copies of their books made? That last one might not be it. 

You could have many books sitting in libraries with no one checking them out for 20 years. Award Winners collecting dust. Best Sellers, once they run their popularity course, sit on the shelf. You take it off the shelf and open it – it squeaks.

Even some books I and others consider classics, are by peoples beds every night – not on the bed-side table -- but under the bed post, keeping the bed level.

Maybe some of our books will not be in the canon. Maybe some of our books will be like the Apocryphal texts that become Hollywood hit films, not accepted by the Church, but by the cults and sects. After all, Christianity was once a sect and having a cult following the literary world is not so bad.

For those of us with neither a cult following, nor a best-selling book, nor an award-winning book, and with no popularity whatsoever -- there's always divine intervention.

P.S. Oh, by the way, “Nunca Jamas” goes in the good quality category.



Here's a few titles by Chicano(a) and Latina(o) authors that made summer reading lists:

Oprah's Summer Reading List
Madonnas of Echo Park by Brandon Skyhourse

UC Berkeley Library Summer Reading List
Piri Thomas
New York: Vintage Books, 1997

Valparaiso Poetry Review Summer Reading list
Breathing, In Dust by TIM Z. HERNANDEZ:
Texas Tech University Press

2010 NYC Tri-Library Summer Reading Lists
Mexican Whiteboy by Matt De La Pena

USA Today Summer Reading List
Beautiful Maria of My Soul By Oscar Hijuelos 

Orogrande Pastors Association Reading List
The Epistiles of St. Paul by St. Paul
 Just kidding folks! 

***Know of more Summer Reading List with Chicano(a) and Latno(a) titles, please email them to me at rayerojas AT gmail.com.



Unveiling of Lalo and Lola Delgado portrait and inauguration of Aberlardo "Lalo" Delgado Collection
I spoke with Lalo Delgado's daughters a few weeks ago and it looked like this event was set for fall, but it looks like it has been moved up to July 21 (NEXT WEEK!), Unveiling of Lalo and Lola Delgado portrait and inauguration of Aberlardo "Lalo" Delgado Collection, Wednesday, July 21, 2010 @ 6 PM @ McNeely Room, Sixth Floor, UTEP Library. Information: Chicano Studies: (915) 747-5462. Please be there at this event honoring Chicano(a) Lit's Poet Laureate.

Salazar will be in the news

With the anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium coming up and the assassination of Ruben Salazar by the LAPD (or was it the LA County Sheriffs, I forgot), Salazar is in the news a lot these days. Check out The Sixties blog for their recent post 40 years after Ruben Salazar's death. 

Also check out this story "Reflecting on the Chicano Moratorium in L.A. Share your memories" on LA Now. Also, someone posted the following photo on flickr: Groundbreaking Ceremony for Ruben Salazar Art Building (6-27-1981).
Cinco Punto's Paintbrush

A new review has been posted of Cinco Punto's Press Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush by Luis Urrea: Review: 'Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush'By Steve Bennett - Express-News."If the small village of Rosario has a conscience, it is Mr. Mendoza, the self-proclaimed El Rey de Graffiti de Todo Mexico (the King of Graffiti of All Mexico) who posts his musings — "No intelligent life for 100 kilometers" on the city limits sign, for example — for all to ponder." READ MORE.

The Flower's Reviewed

Dagoberto Gilb's The Flowers got a review posted at Learn a Second Language. I'm not sure if this is a website or a blog, but listen: "The narrator Sonny is confined to a Los Angeles apartment complex in a neighborhood of the Watts Riots.What’s captivating here is that the story is told not from the white or black but from the perspective of a Chicano." READ MORE

Europe Loves Our Books: I don't you so!
Didn't I tell you so just a few days ago, Europe loves our books and writers. Check out El Paso native Mario T. Garcia's article "European interest in Chicanos/Latinos" in the National Catholic Reporter

"There is growing interest in both countries and, in fact, throughout Europe about the Chicano/Latino experience and, in general, about the minority experience in the United States." READ MORE.

Blog Updates

Several blog updates to tell you about. Check out C.M. Mayo's Writing Life: A Report from the Field which gives you a link to a podcast of a panel discussion. Also, she posted some info on the Maximilian and Carlota Blog.

Luis J. Rodriguez posted his last blog from England: On the Southern English Coast. On Facebook, he said he's on his way back, but he posted some photos. 

Rafael Jesus Gonzalez posted some poems on Pablo Neruda to his blog:

Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904/September 23, 1973).


New books in the mail

I finally got Nancy Green's Crucified River/Rio Crucificado and Carolina Monsivais' Elisa's Hunger in the mail today. Well see if we can bust out a review and maybe get some interviews. Just finished Carolina's book. I hope to have that review of Crazy Gypsy (Luis Omar Salinas) and Free, free at Last (Tigre Perez) out soon.


Your calo juarense for today is: donde viboras? - donde vives? - Pero si se dice en sentido afrimativo significa "donde siempre" -- Where do you live? - If said affirmatively, it means "where I've always lived."

                                                       ---- Glosario del Calo de Cd. Juarez
                                                                                          Ricardo Aguilar Melantzon

The link we share with you today: Race Traitor

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