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

Octavio Romano

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Castillo to release novel: The Guardians

Closing your business

My friend asked me if I knew a good Mexican restaurant on the Eastside of El Paso. I didn’t recall any, but I mentioned Avila's remembering they had a good plate of enchiladas but not knowing it was now closed. Remember, I just returned to El Paso. I passed by one day and a sign said, “Thank you for so many years” and stated they closed. I think that is how business should do it. I would have like Montwood Theatre to a last show. Maybe advertise saying we will show our last movie and then close. Otherwise it’s sadness.

Ever the activist

Ever the activist that I am, as I already told some, doing some underground research into the state of the working poor in El Paso. One thing that I noticed among the services is all the Violence Against Women Act assistance that organizations in El Paso are providing. The problem is big. Immigrant women are being held hostage by citizen spouses who use the women immigration status against her. They threaten not to file something or play stupid. All through that, they keep abusing the women in many ways.

But looking at El Paso, I get distressed. The university continues to subcontract out. More underpaid workers. Day workers continue to go unpaid in the street. Domestic workers often suffer abuse by El Paso patrons. Janitors are often at the end of the oppression stick. The Segundo Barrio is ever divided. The organizations are competing against each other. Others marking their territory leaving piss at every corner.

One aspect that is good, is that the Industrial Areas Foundation is helping to organize a Border Interfaith Group. Hopefully it will do some good. One criticism I've heard from members and former members of EPISO is the singleissueness and conservatism. Though Chicago organizing institutes can be somewhat top down, the IAF has done some good work with groups such as TogetherOne in Omaha, Nebraska or is it Lincoln. I forget.

EPT Writing

I went to the BorderSenses release party about a week ago. It was nice to see old friends. I was Daniel Chacon and Amit Gosh. The publication has grown so much. I read one of the poems in their new issue. This has been a continue publication, never missing an issue as we have. But they need fund to continue, so if you are an El Pasoan in exile, consider donating. Go to www.bordersenses.com.


I’ve somewhat started writing corridos again. I took the guitar out, though shopping for picks, it distresses me that there is no real music store on the eastside since KurlandSaltzman closes. I guess CapshawOlivas closes their eastside store too. I wrote a corridos about the back-door draft.


On that topic, I’ve notices many obnoxious and young G.I.s in town. More then usual with all the build up. I go to restaurants and I can tell. This build up will bring the good and bad people to El Paso. It often brings the racist element to town or more so than usual. But this is the chance for Whites and Blacks who have never lived among Chicanos and Mexicanos to experience the good our people have. I know there has been racial tension in the Northeast between Blacks and Chicanos. Hopefully, something can be done.


It seems many El Paso activist groups are still very reactionary. Throw a protest, a march, or something after something happens. We need to get proactive.

Tim Z. Hernández to visit

Tim Z. Hernández, author of Skin Tax will be coming to town, so says Daniel Chacon. Hopefully, I can finally get my review of Skin Tax published. Tim Z. Hernandez grew up in Visalia and was catapulted into a life of writing and performance art after the tragic death of his much beloved uncle. Hernandez is the recipient of two awards, the Best Solo Production of 2003 Award for his one-man show Skin Tax: Diaries of a Macho, and the James D. Phelan Award for best manuscript by an emerging writer.

Ana Castillo to present new book

Ana Castillo will read from her new book The Guardians at 7pm Friday, at the Mesilla Community Center, 2251 Calle de Sntiago in Mesilla, New Mexico. The event is sponsored by the Border Book Festival. www.borderbookfestival.org. Check out Ramon Renteria and Sergio Troncoso’s El Paso Times book review at: http://origin.elpasotimes.com/living/ci_6432901

Los Pintos de Guantanamo in verse

Also check out the bit on the book by detainees at Guantanamo called Poems From Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak (Univ of Iowa Prsss): http://origin.elpasotimes.com/living/ci_6432902

New books

For the Children: Award Winning Book

The Bilingual Picture Book Vegetable Dreams / Huerto soñado was recently named One of the Best Children’s Books of the Year. Vegetable Dreams / Huerto soñado by Dawn Jeffers (Raven Tree Press) has been chosen for inclusion in the prestigious Bank Street College of Education’s 2007 edition of The Best Children’s Books of the Year.

Bank Street College of Education is located in New York City and their Children’s Book Committee issues an annotated handbook of children’s books they believe to be the best publications of the prior year.

Considered a guidebook for parents, teachers and librarians, the listings include fiction, nonfiction and poetry titles which are arranged into sections by age and topic. The Children’s Book Committee receives more than 4,000 titles a year for consideration and possible inclusion in their guidebook. Vegetable Dreams / Huerto soñado has also received the Midwest Book Award for Children’s Books, BWI’s Top Pick and is included on the Brodart Español Recommended Book List.

Quixotic vision in Robert Lopez’ new book

Recently released is PART OF THE WORLD by Robert Lopez on Calamari Press (2007 ISBN 978-0-9770723-8-5). PART OF THE WORLD is a fugue in both a musical and psychological sense. It is a canonical juggernaut of lyrical language--ever dissolving, devolving, shifting, then reconstituting itself into a new knowledge of reality.

This language comes straight from a compulsive mind in a Quixotic state--ceaselessly harping on the everyday perturbations and peculiarities of our humdrum lives--our cars, apartments, health, finances.

But if you relax your focus as if staring at some sort of holographic fractal, with each part containing the whole, the superficial meaning is purged, layer by layer, peeling back and revealing the subtext of what the mind is capable of under the burden of trauma and accountability.

"Robert Lopez has written a darkly hilarious exploration of the trickery of memory, the unreliability of personal history, and the strangeness, even uncanniness, of our daily transactions"--Dawn Raffel. "Literary pleasures like this are all too uncommon"--Laird Hunt

New Novel in Translation from Host Publications

by Evaristo Conceicao has been released on Host Publications (2006 ISBN: 978-0-924047-34-3). It is translated from the Portuguese by Paloma Martinez-Cruz.

The story of a young Afro-Brazilian woman's journey from the land of her enslaved ancestors to the emptiness of urban life. However, the generations of creativity, violence and family cannot be so easily left behind as Poncia is heir to a mysterious psychic gift from her grandfather. Does this gift have the power to bring Ponci back from the emotional vacuum and absolute solitude that has overtaken her in the city? Do the elemental forces of earth, air, fire and water mean anything in the barren urban landscape? A mystical story of family, dreams and hope by the most talented chronicler of Afro-Brazilian life writing today.
http://www.spdbooks.org/Details.asp?BookID=0924047348 (USD 1275462554.44)

City of Wri
te: Latin American Women

The University of Minnesota has put out UNFOLDING THE CITY: Women Write the City in Latin America by Anne Lambright and Elisabeth Guerrero, editors (2007 ISBN 978-0-8166-4812-2) . It is an original look at how Latin American women writers rethink urban space.

The essays in this collection assert that women’s views of the city are unique and revealing. For the first time, Unfolding the City addresses issues of gender and the urban in literature—particularly lesser-known works of literature—written by Latin American women from Mexico City, Santiago, and Buenos Aires.

The contributors propose new mappings of urban space; interpret race and class dynamics; and describe Latin American urban centers in the context of globalization.

Contributors: Debra A. Castillo, Sandra Messinger Cypess, Guillermo Irizarry, Naomi Lindstrom, Jacqueline Loss, Dorothy E. Mosby, Angel Rivera, Lidia Santos, Marcy Schwartz, Daniel Noemi Voionmaa, Gareth Williams. For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book’s webpage: http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/L/lambright_unfolding.html

N O W A V A I L A B L E ! Awesome stories from Cuba

I’ve been reading this and like it very much. Closed for Repairs Stories by Nancy Alonso is a much needed book from the island of Cuba. If there was a Cuban word for Chicanada, this book describes the intelligence of on-the-island Cubans often finding amusing was to survive after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Translated by Anne Fountain, "New voices from Cuba are always welcome. And in this splendid translation by Anne Fountain of short stories by Nancy Alonso, the English-reading public has obtained widened access to facets of daily life in Cuba during the years following the Special Period. The poignancy and pathos resonate, as does the triumph of the human spirit. All in all: a wonderful read"--Louis A. Pérez, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Closed for Repairs is a series of eleven vignettes that depict Cuban ingenuity in the face of urban problems. Each solution is framed with humor and irony and gives a glimpse of life on the Island today.

Alonso shows us the spirit of resolve on the part of Cubans when faced with such issues as transportation problems, lack of water, and the shortage of consumer goods and construction materials caused by the embargo.

Illuminating the endurance and resilience of the Cuban people, these stories will make you chuckle. Alonso's sly wit is compelling as she satirizes the bureaucracy--an element of her work that will resonate universally.
Closed for Repairs | http://www.curbstone.org/bookdetail.cfm?BookID=195
Closed for Repairs by Nancy Alonso, translated by Anne Fountain (Curbstone
Pub date: June 2007 | ISBN: 978-1-931896-32-0)

Curbstone occasionally sends information about current publications, events and readings via e-mail. If you wish to be added to this list please visit http://www.curbstone.org/optinorout.cfm , or send a message asking to be added to or removed from list to cplist@curbstone.org. You may also write or call Curbstone Press at 321 Jackson St. Willimantic, CT 06226. Phone: 860-423-5110.

The consequences—both positive and negative—of consumer boycotts of sweatshop labor.

Another University of Minnesota gem: UNRAVELING THE GARMENT INDUSTRY: Transnational Organizing and Women’s Work by Ethel C. Brooks (2007 ISBN 978-0-8166-4485-80) is part of their Social Movements, Protest, and Contention Series.

Unraveling the Garment Industry investigates the politics of labor and protest within the garment industry. Focusing on three labor rights movements—against GAP clothing in El Salvador, child labor in Bangladesh, and sweatshops in New York City—Ethel C. Brooks examines how transnational consumer protest campaigns effect change, sometimes with unplanned penalties for those they intend to protect.

“Impressive multisited fieldwork meets critical social theory to produce a provocative and insightful account of the production, logics, and meanings of transnational campaigns against labor violations.” —Javier Auyero

“Unraveling the Garment Industry provides a trenchant critique of consumer led campaigns for inadvertently reinforcing the global-local divide both symbolically and materially. Ethel Brooks’s deepest commitments illuminate the testimonies of women workers that are often marginalized by transnational scholarship and activism.” —Amrita Basu
For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book’s webpage:

For more information on the Social Movements, Protest, and Contention Series:

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