Friday, December 16, 2011

Lit Links & Scoops

Listipedia:You can find a list of 2011 Best Books Lists here

Et tu? The Communist Party in Chile has asked for the remains of the poet Pablo Neruda to be exhumed due to allegations that he may have been poisoned.

Truth: People don't make sense anymore

Truth #2: Why it's pointless for companies to block social

Book Marketing: DIY Book Trailer

A few 2012 Beauty Trends

Gimme: These flowered black nail decals from London Butter are the dopest thing I've seen in a long time.

In news that won't depress you this week: Lobsterman Jim Henry Learns to Read at 91, Writes Book at 98, and then Meet 5 Former Slaves Who Are Changing the World.

CNN lists New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico as two of the top places to spend Christmas.

Read, Rinse, Repeat: Ryan Rivera on 7 Reasons Why You’re Not as Miserable as You Imagine

This flowchart will help you pick your next best gothic/horror read: World War Z or The Shadow of the Wind

Is it a crime to be poor? by BARBARA EHRENREICH


A great piece on the need to listen and the need for storytellers to tell their tales..."We are storytelling creatures and as long as we permit ourselves to be quiet for a while now and then, the eternal narrative will continue" In Africa, the Art of Listening

 "The genomes of modern Puerto Ricans are a mosaic of African, European and Native American sequences. On average, the genomes of Puerto Ricans contain 10–15% Native American DNA, which is
largely Taíno" via Nature.

On dating a girl who reads

Some great 2011 recap pieces:
What I Learned About the Web in 2011
This year’s top buzzword in the U.S. is ‘creative’.
2012 Social Marketing & New Media Prediction Report


Thursday, December 08, 2011

You are Invited: Atabey at Webster Hall

Don't miss your chance to see local East Harlem Alternative Rock/Post-hardcore band, Atabey, along with others on December 20, 2011, at Webster Hall in NYC.

Ticket Information here.


* Geeky fact: Atabey means "respected mother" and was worshiped as a major god of fresh water and fertility in Taino Culture.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Lit Links & Scoops

100 Notable Books of 2011 via NY Times

I was just talking about this (like 5 different times): TheMarySue on Girls & Boys Science Kits

Sad because it's true: The 56 best/worst analogies written by high school students

Shop Till You Drop By Banksy
The Obama's went shopping on Small Business Saturday and picked up a copy of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

Apparrently newspaper is not just for packing: DIY Newspaper print manicure

The world's biggest insect is actually kinda cute: Giant Weta Eating a Carrot

Get your coquito on at the NYC 10th Annual Coquito Masters' Crawl Zone.

Luis Alberto Urrea, author of THE HUMMINGBIRD'S DAUGHTER, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH, and his latest book, QUEEN OF AMERICA, talks about his writing, his characters, his interesting relatives, prog-rock, and a million other things that make Urrea a truly engaging writer.

Kudos to Authors Amy Chua &  Arundhati Roy, President Dilma Rousseff, International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and blogger Yoani Sánchez who made the impressive 100 Top Global Thinkers List over at Foreignpolicy.com

The case of the phantom library sculptor over at NPR, where you can also sample the new Roots album.

Cinco, cinco, cinco: Teach your kids to count in any language with this ultra cute and hip interactive picture book app from Appracadabra - Count The Animals.

Side-eye: How anyone could have grown up without tostones or ever seeing A Christmas Story is besides me....

 

I Has a Sad: 

Lastly, this holiday season please be careful what you gift your cat. I came close to losing my beloved kitty after she chewed off and swallowed ALL the streamers from a dumb wand she got last year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lit Links & Scoops

When Horror Went Highbrow


Author Irene Vilar Launches “The Lolita Lebrón Foundation” and Offers New of an Upcoming Translation of “Impossible Motherhood” in December. (Spanish)


The first Latina on Broadway dishes on her career and how she got her breakout role in South Pacific via Smithsonian Magazine.


Most clever & cute promotional campaign for a book: Daniel Hadler of Lemony Snicket fame's Why We Broke Up?


Take a peek: A few authors and their personal libraries


Book Review: The Time in Between by María Dueña


  This is me, screaming!


1. Mexican officials are investigating the case of the 10-year-old girl who gave birth, to see if she might have been raped.
2. Demands of Cold Blood




Are immigrants more loyal to imported beer? And, does it really matter since they're all American anyway?

Carlos Ruiz Zafón's following up THE SHADOW OF THE WIND and THE ANGEL'S GAME with the third novel in the series, THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN, released today in Spain.


Salon's Sexiest Men of 2011 includes author Justin Torres, Manny Pacquiao, and chef Marcus Samuelsson


Book review: 'Before the End, After the Beginning' by Dagoberto Gilb An interesting read about what people were reading about over a 100 years ago.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Truth About Immortals (or Revisiting 300)

Immortals, the 3D fantasy adventure film directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, and Mickey Rourke is in theaters today.

The movie takes us to a mythical world full of treachery, vengeance and fate set in ancient Greece where a young Theseus (Henry Cavill), comes to terms with his destiny with the help of the beautiful Sibylline oracle priestess(es), battles the brutal and bloodthirsty King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) in order to defeat his evil quest to acquire the legendary invincible Epirus bow and use it to overthrow the Gods of Olympus and mankind. The gods cannot interfere in the ways of men nor in this war for the future of humanity.

I was really excited for the movie after viewing the trailer for Immortals on Google+ last month and seeing it heralded as a new 300. A film, which I originally didn't think I would like but ended up captivating me with great imagery, a great script, thrilling graphic action and even some controversy to boot -- that has become the fodder of and contributed to oh, so many geeky conversations in the past years.

When I had the chance to preview Immortals pre-release, three weeks ago, I jumped at the chance and brought along Seth Evans, Chief Operating Officer of Sports FantasEase at Making MemorEase™ for fair game.

We teamed up to discuss some of the merits and shortcomings of the film:

He said: 200. That should have been the name of the movie. It was as if producers of 300 tried to recreate the masterpiece that was 300, yet fell just short. This is not to say Immortals was not entertaining; but the people who were excited to see this movie had expectations of the unbelievable fight scenes and fire breathing speeches of King Leonidas. Theseus (Henry Cavill) was very good at the role but could not fill King Leonidas’ sandals. His speech at the end of the movie to the army prior to the final battle was moving, but did not light the same fire inside of any man in the audience, which means it had nothing on “tonight we dine in hell,” which had most men ready to pick up a shield and spear and go to battle themselves when leaving the theater after 300.

She said: It wasn't just my male brethren that 300 moved. 300 was epic in every sense of the word and I think the producers and the promoters of Immortals set themselves up for failure somewhat when the bar was set so high - 300 won many awards in different categories when it came out. To give you a sense of the disparity, I saw 300 at home on DVD and was blown away. I saw Immortals in 3D in the theater and was mostly unimpressed and immune to the characters' plight. When King Leonidas is willing to sacrifice his men, his family, and his life for Sparta and the Greek city-states, there isn't anyone who can't help but be impacted by the love, honor, and courage that makes them the stuff of legends. If I remember correctly, I weeped at the end of 300 and i'm not ashamed to admit it.

He said: This movie did offer a heartfelt moment as well, when Theseus had to watch his mother slaughtered at the hands of King Hyperion. The brightest spot in the movie was hands down the demonic King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) and when you saw his mask with the spikes around his face, his black almost dead eyes and the scars across his cheek you saw nothing but true evil. Every time he was on screen he stole the scene, from his evil stares to the slow yet important way he spoke; every time he had something to say it seemed as he chose his words wisely to get the point across while instilling fear in anyone who was listening.

She said: The sculpted Theseus and vicious King Hyperion didn't hold much luster for me, although there were a couple of stylized action scenes that really wowed me, perhaps with their gore. I was more haunted by the captivating beauty of the oracles and their rhythmic incantations. The sight of Freida Pinto (Phaedra) in those grecian dresses is not something one forgets easily and made me recall the artistry of the stairway scene from the sci-fi movie The Cell with Jennifer Lopez. Interestingly enough, both of these movies relied heavily on works of art for their imagery. In fact, the director of Immortals is quoted as saying [it's] "basically, Caravaggio meets Fight Club. It's a really hardcore action film done in Renaissance painting style," on the film's Wikipedia page. And, it is the thing that saves this movie - It is visually stunning. One thing that did bother me, however, was that the oracles were all exoticized and it instantly drew my thoughts to the tired and old Magical Negro trope. Were the oracles all non-white on purpose? Is Sibylline Greek for brown hottie? Was this an intentional attempt to stir up some controversy and help fuel the publicity fires for the film a la 300's Persians? Or was it just Hollywood being stereotypical Hollywood?

He said: The visual aspect of this movie was phenomenal though; the 3-D brought the movie to a different level. Overall, this movie will give fans of 300 something to enjoy, while still realizing it is not quite the epic battle movie they had hoped. The story could have used more detail’s as to the battle of god’s and titans, but it seemed to not want to drag on which is important in a battle movie such as this.

She said: Speaking of drags, another sore point for me was the liberal use and fabrication of classical mythology. I know it's fantasy but for those who know their Greek mythology expect to be a lot lost by the storyline and the relation of the characters to the events taking place. It is very loosely based on bits and pieces of many stories and spun together to form a makeshift 300. Except that 300 was extremely loyal to the graphic novel it was adapted from and the historical events that battle follows...just saying.

He said: I would recommend this movie to anyone who loved 300, but would tell them to wait till it came out on video, (that just made me sound old) DVD.

 She said: What he said.

 

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Weird Thing Happened to Me on the Way to the Bookstore

I never thought the day would come when I would say this but... I have no desire to buy books anymore.

Now let me make this clear: I have no intention of not reading anymore nor have I picked up any shoplifting habit or anything like that but at some point in the past couple of years I just got tired of having so much stuff.

I love my bookshelves laden with their tomes, reflective of my travels, experiences, zeitgeists of my soul at the time of consumption, strewn with bookmarks and placeholder's like that lovely boy's business card or a forgotten receipt and other skinny trinkets.

I think that I, like many people of my generation, have become very attune to the need to go back to basics, to a simpler lifestyle, one that respects our planet and environment - where space, time, and ethics are valued commodities. Meanwhile, this need is simultaneously juxtaposed with a desire to partake in cutting edge, innovative technology and its fruitful gadgetry.

I've become obsessed with platforms like Tumblr or Google+ where I can feed my need for real time news and  connect to a global network of friends, peers and yes, strangers too instantly from a stream of content.

At home, my ipad has become my bedtime companion, replacing my books, laptop, where I stream my Netflix, and cable shows, where I play words with friends, and habitually check Flipboard for interesting content or my email.

I see the tired headlines and hear the battle cries of the booksellers and publishing industry. I have only one thing to say: Innovate or die. People will always read. They will always consume knowledge. How and with what, may be the only factors that come into play here. MTV didn't kill the radio star, it made gave them a face. Apple didn't reinvent music but it sure affected the music industry and the consumption of music.

As a consumer, one who has always loved books and collected the paper kind, I know I really don't want to continue to buy physical books at the pace I used to - I simply cannot for a triad of reasons: money, space, and lack of convenience and need.

It's so much easier and enjoyable for me to devour a book quickly in one sitting, on my ipad - going to a bookstore and wandering aisles browsing and peeking into books with interesting covers has just become a luxury that I simply do not have the time for or the budget for...




Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday's Psalm: Gaby Moreno "Mess A Good Thing"

Gaby Moreno "Mess A Good Thing"

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

New Book: The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess: Race, Religion, and DNA

I had a chance to preview a copy of The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess: Race, Religion, and DNA by Jeff Wheelwright, which will be published in January 2012.

My initial thoughts were that it would be a Hispano spin on The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature by Matt Ridley meets The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

It reads a little more academic ethnography than narrative but is worth checking out if you have an interest in Sephardi Jews and Southwest Hispano ancestry, the tracing of cultural history across time and place, and the juxtaposition of genetics and modern medicine:

 About the book:
A vibrant young Hispano woman, Shonnie Medina, inherits a breast-cancer mutation known as BRCA1.185delAG. It is a genetic variant characteristic of Jews. The Medinas knew they were descended from Native Americans and Spanish Catholics, but they did not know that they had Jewish ancestry as well. The mutation most likely sprang from Sephardic Jews hounded by the Spanish Inquisition. The discovery of the gene leads to a fascinating investigation of cultural history and modern genetics by Dr. Harry Ostrer and other experts on the DNA of Jewish populations.
Shonnie Medina, who died at the age of 28, after forgoing treatment for breast cancer
Set in the isolated San Luis Valley of Colorado, this beautiful and harrowing book tells of the Medina family’s five-hundred-year passage from medieval Spain to the American Southwest and of their surprising conversion from Catholicism to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1980s. Rejecting conventional therapies in her struggle against cancer, Shonnie Medina died in 1999. Her life embodies a story that could change the way we think about race and faith.
The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess: Race, Religion, and DNA explores topics like the Marranos, secret Jews of Spain, St. Teresa of Avila who was of Jewish converso stock, the possibility of hidden Jewish symbolism in Don Quixote, written by a supposed Converso (a forced convert to Christianity): Miguel de Cervantes, some of the  apocalyptic and medical perspectives from the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and more.

You may read a summary of each chapter to the book here to the accompaniment of a tune from Old New Mexico, sung by a carrier of the gene, Robert Martinez.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NYC: Walking with the Comrades - Arundhati Roy


Walking with the Comrades

Deep in the forests, under the pretense of battling Maoist guerillas, the Indian government is waging a vicious total war against its own citizens-a war undocumented by a weak domestic press and fostered by corporations eager to exploit the rare minerals buried in tribal lands. Chronicling her months spent living with the rebel guerillas in the forests, Roy addresses the much larger question of whether global capitalism will tolerate any societies existing outside of its colossal control.
 Arundhati Roy
Wednesday November 9th 2011
7.00 PM – 9.00 PM
The ProshanskyAuditorium
Cuny Graduate Center
 365 Fifth Ave at 34th Street

Free and open to the public

Co-sponsored by the Committee on Globalization and Social Change and the Center for Humanities CUNY

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lit Links & Scoops

New Bookish Site: Bookriot - aims to be the Jezebel, Valleywag of books.

 Google takes a look at an infinite digital bookcase

 Very excited about the The Raven, a film featuring John Cusack as a fictional Edgar Allan Poe coming out next year!
 

GOOP shows you how to buy art like a pro


Neat Trick or Treat idea:
 

How Geek are you? Wired breaks down the 9 most essential Geek reads.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beyond the Mean Streets - In Remembrance: Piri Thomas

“Because he became a writer, many of us became writers. Before ‘Down These Mean Streets,’ we could not find a book by a Puerto Rican writer in the English language about the experience of that community, in that voice, with that tone and subject matter.” - via NYTimes.


I would not be who I am today, this blog would not exist - had this book  not been read or written.

Piri Thomas in his own words on his early life - via NPR


Born A new At Each A.M.

by Piri Thomas
The street's got kicks man,
like a bargain shelf,
In fact, cool-breeze, it's got
love just like anyplace else.
It's got high-powered salesmen
who push mucho junk,
And hustlers who can swallow
you up in a chunk.
It's got sewers that swallow
all the street pours down its throat
It's got hope wearing
an old over-coat.
It's got lights that shine up
the dark and make the scene like new
It sells what you don't need
And never lets you forget what you blew.
It's got our beautiful children
living in all kinds of hell
hoping to survive and making it well
Swinging together in misty darkness
With much love to share
Smiling a Christ-like forgiveness,
That only a ghetto cross can bear.
The streets got life, man,
like a young tender sun,
and gentleness like
long awaited dreams to come.
For children are roses with nary a thorn,
forced to feel the racist's scorn,
Our children are beauty
with the right to be born.
Born anew at each a.m.
Like a child out of twilight,
flying toward sunlight,
Born anew at each a.m.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shaped by Media

Must-watch:

Miss Representation 8 min. Trailer 8/23/11 from Miss Representation on Vimeo.

Monday, October 10, 2011

1950 Circus Banner Features Diminutive El Cuco

I spotted this over at Boingboing but all I could think was "a baby Cuco."

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Lit Links & Scoops

An excellent post on Latinos and the Categories of Race, via @Urrealism

I cannot wait to read Zone One by Colson Whitehead.

The Future of Books: A Dystopian Timeline, via Techcrunch Answering the question “What are you?” through time and place via Good Magazine.

“One of the most subversive institutions in the United States is the public library..” ― bell hooks

I forgot how much I love Bell Hooks, I need to download her books to my ipad and reread!

Lifting my glass to our insane industry - Salud!

Verizon Wireless is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by asking consumers to upload a photo through Facebook or Twitter to the Verizon-commissioned digital art mosaic with $1 for every photo uploaded being donated to Casa de Esperanza, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence in the Latino community. Simply go to hashtagart.com/verizonhispanicheritage before October 31 and click “Add Me” to claim a spot in this history-making event.

The Guardian takes us on a literary world tour of Colombia



Famous Authors: Baby Photos

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, National Public Radio’s Tell Me More is offering a weekly series on Latin music with guests Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of NPR Music’s Alt.Latino podcast. They’ve been sharing new music releases from across Latin America and Spain.

How to make an ebook.

And, here's a service that allows you to make animated ebooks: MoGlue

One Geek Dad asks what happens to young low income readers when physical books vanish...
“The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die only when you are dead. To love, to be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity of the life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” — Arundhati Roy

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

NYC: Friends of Woodlawn Presents ¡Azúcar! Celebrating CELIA CRUZ

Friends of Woodlawn 
Presents ¡Azúcar! Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Musical Icon 
CELIA CRUZ
Sunday, October 9, 2011 

FREE Hispanic Heritage Month Concert, Panel Discussion and Tour Featuring award-winning artist Bobby Sanabria and The Celia Cruz High School of Music

 As always, Hispanic Heritage Month has special significance at The Woodlawn Cemetery, as we once again celebrate one of the brightest stars to find her final resting place in the Bronx. Friends of Woodlawn is proud to present Azucar! Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Celia Cruz with The Bronx Music Heritage Center, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, and City Lore.

Please join us Sunday, October 9, at 1:00 p.m., for a FREE event honoring the legacy of The Queen of Salsa, whose timeless work continues to have a major impact on jazz, pop culture and Latin music worldwide.

 Program includes:
 • Panel discussion on the life and influence of Ms. Cruz organized by preeminent City Lore folklorist Elena Martinez and moderated by Grammy-nominated musician Bobby Sanabria
 • Selection of Ms. Cruz’s music performed by students from The Celia Cruz High School of Music
 • Guided visit to the Cruz mausoleum, La Guarachera de Cuba’s final resting place.

 Come celebrate and learn about the legacy of Latin music icon Celia Cruz! The event will take place in the Woolworth Chapel, just inside the Jerome Avenue entrance.



Woodlawn is the last stop on the IRT #4 train. The cemetery is also accessible from the Metro North Railroad Harlem Line (Woodlawn Station). By car, Woodlawn can be reached from the E. 233rd St. exit off the Major Deegan (#13) and the Bronx River Parkway (#10).

 The Woodlawn Cemetery is Designated A National Historic Landmark Visit the WoodLawnCemetery.org for more information.

New Book: Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy

One to note: Chango's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes by William Kennedy
When journalist Daniel Quinn meets Ernest Hemingway at the Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba, in 1957, he has no idea that his own affinity for simple, declarative sentences will change his life radically overnight. So begins William Kennedy's latest novel-a tale of revolutionary intrigue, heroic journalism, crooked politicians, drug-running gangsters, Albany race riots, and the improbable rise of Fidel Castro. Quinn's epic journey carries him through the nightclubs and jungles of Cuba and into the newsrooms and racially charged streets of Albany on the day Robert Kennedy is fatally shot in 1968. The odyssey brings Quinn, and his exotic but unpredictable Cuban wife, Renata, a debutante revolutionary, face-to-face with the darkest facets of human nature and illuminates the power of love in the presence of death. Kennedy masterfully gathers together an unlikely cast of vivid characters in a breathtaking adventure full of music, mysticism, and murder-a homeless black alcoholic, a radical Catholic priest, a senile parent, a terminally ill jazz legend, the imperious mayor of Albany, Bing Crosby, Hemingway, Castro, and a ragtag ensemble of radicals, prostitutes, provocateurs, and underworld heavies. This is an unforgettably riotous story of revolution, romance, and redemption, set against the landscape of the civil rights movement as it challenges the legendary and vengeful Albany political machine. William Kennedy was born and raised in Albany, New York. His Albany Cycle of novels includes Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed, Quinn's Book, Very Old Bones, The Flaming Corsage, and Roscoe. A journalist before becoming a novelist, Kennedy covered the civil rights movement and Cuban revolutions in the 1950s and 1960s. He is a MacArthur Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Averill Park, New York.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Interview with Justin Torres, author of We the Animals


As you may remember from my previous post, I had a chance to sit down with Justin Torres on Monday to discuss his debut work, WE THE ANIMALS, with him and even though it was an epic 2.5 hour-long trek to Brooklyn, I had a wonderful time and was honored to be there.

Here is some of the coverage from the event below and a special thanks to everyone who came out!

 

Left to right: Ron Hogan (Beatrice.com), me, Greenlight Bookstore owner: Jessica Stockton, and Justin Torres

Me & Justin Torres

Justin Torres signing copies of WE THE ANIMALS at the Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, New York
This is my absolute favorite photo of the evening! *Photo: Joseph Pulley

Nothing like seeing your name up there.
Standing room only
Justin Torres reads before a packed house

If you haven't read this book yet, you definitely need to pick it up. It's definitely a book of the year and reminds me of a fusion between Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas, Blu's Hanging by Lois-Ann Yamanaka , Push: A Novel by Sapphire, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy; yes, it's that caliber.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lit Links & Scoops


The Brooklyn Book Festival is this weekend! La Casa Azul Bookstore will be there with Las Comadres and  17 authors signing books at Booth #125!

I hope you can make it to my bookstore event on Monday with Justin Torres.

- This is what happens when social media makes you jaded - I totally feel what he is saying:
Replacing Culture with Polarity
Today, words are only as good as the clicks they attract.

I don’t have to write anything profound. I just have to write something catchy.

I don’t need to be right, or even to take a stand. I just need to be interesting enough to be momentarily quotable.

I don’t seek out well-reasoned responses or rational debate. I just want comments, likes and retweets, which prove that I still have a pulse. Via Are We the Generation That Destroyed the Concept of Communication
- While the title of this article was skewed toward sexist sensationalism, I really enjoyed reading it -
A Message to Women: You are not irrational, crazy, or sensitive

- I love Chris Brogan, he is a good guy who is always willing to help and he is passionate about what he does, so when he talks about drawing boundaries - I think people should listen:
TAKE BACK YOUR STRINGS

Goodreads has launched a Netflix-like recommendation feature, while Amazon launches a netflix for ebooks (according to rumor).

- On freedom of press and social media, meanwhile in Mexico a gruesome message was set for bloggers and Twitterers on what happens to those who "snitch."

SAT Reading Scores Now Lowest Ever Since 1972

 LeVar Burton Bringing Back Reading Rainbow to a New Generation

Donate to the ‘40K in 40 days’ campaign and help us open La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem.


40K in 40 days campaign, La Casa Azul Bookstore from Lucha Libros on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Back to School: 50 Great Hispanic Novels Every Student Should Read

Onlinecollegecourses.com has a put together a great list of Hispanic novels that everyone should add to their list.

It's sorted by author's country of origin and contains a very nice mixture of recent and past notable books.

Here are the top books from Hispanic American authors:


  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros 
  • This short novel is perfect for rainy afternoon reading. Central to the novel is a young girl named Esperanza, who is coming of age in a Chicagoan Mexican and Puerto Rican neighborhood. She flounders in desperation to leave her impoverished life behind and move on to bigger and better things.
  • Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo AnayaPart of a trilogy, this award winner has landed on many banned book lists for its depiction of witchcraft and violence. It’s an undeserved reputation for an incredibly important read that blends folklore, religion and coming of age issues into one beautifully written work.
  • In the Time of Butterflies by Julia AlvarezSet in the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo dictatorship, this novel tells a fictionalized version of real life events surrounding three sisters murdered for their roles in a plot to overthrow the government.
  • And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by Tomas RiveraA compilation of short stories and vignettes rather than a novel proper, this collection helped expose many of the abuses and horrors faced by migrant workers in the 1940s and 1950s. Disturbing, tragic and beautiful, it is an essential read for anyone interested in Hispanic lit.
  • Llamame Brooklyn by Eduardo LagoWhile Lago is a Spanish-born writer, he lives and writes in America, and this book chronicles his experience living abroad. Llamame Brooklyn (or Call Me Brooklyn) was inspired by Lago’s own time in the US. It details the life of a young man struggling to come to terms with his Spanish identity while residing in New York with his adopted family.


To browse through the rest of the list, click here.

Monday, September 05, 2011

NYC: Justin Torres in Conversation with Literanista at the Greenlight Bookstore

Mark your calendars, friends!

I will be interviewing author, Justin Torres (We The Animals) on Monday, September 19, 2011, at 7:30 PM at the Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. A very special thank you to Ron Hogan of Beatrice.com who will present the discussion. I hope you can join us!
Monday, September 19, 7:30 PM
Blogger/Author Pairings:  
Justin Torres discusses his novel We The Animals with Valerie Russo of Literanista
Introduction by Ron Hogan of Beatrice.com


Former New York bookseller Justin Torres has been taking the literary world by storm with his fiercely powerful debut novel of the intense love and idiosyncrasies of family life. A first person narrative of three growing brothers and their volatile and passionate parents, the book is also a coming-of-age story in which personal identity – cultural, ethnic, sexual – wars with the overwhelming demands of family.

Justin discusses his work with Valerie Russo, creator of Literanista, where she writes about multicultural books, new media, and social issues. The event is hosted by series curator Ron Hogan, creator of the seminal literary blog Beatrice.com.


Location: Greenlight Bookstore 

686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, New York
11217

Subway: C at Lafayette, G at Fulton Street, or 2/3/4/5/B/D/M/Q/N/R at Atlantic/Pacific Terminal.

Click here for a map


RSVP via Facebook

Friday, September 02, 2011

Everything Must Come to an End

Those of you familiar with my blog know my passion for dragonflies. I came across this video made by a photographer who found a dying dragonfly on his deck and shot this haunting video. I thought it was a fitting way to say goodbye to summer but also to remind ourselves that every thing we experience no matter how small or fleeting is an opportunity.

Last Moments Of Life from Paul Kroeker on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Digital Natives, Pedagogy & Blogging

I'd like to invite all of my readers, especially the educators in the audience to welcome and follow my sister, Ms. Garcia, who is now blogging at Pre-K, My Way.



I'd also like to bring your attention to a very cool book called Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning from "Marc Prensky, who first coined the terms "digital natives" and "digital immigrants,"" as he "presents an intuitive yet highly innovative and field-tested partnership model that promotes 21st-century student learning through technology."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NYC: Poetry Handmade Books / Poesía hecha a mano Event

You're invited:

Poetry Handmade Books / Poesía hecha a mano

Please join us at McNally Jackson Bookstore on September 2nd, 2011 at 7:00pm,

Yarisa Colón will be speaking about the creation of her handmade poetry books.


McNally Jackson Bookstore is located on 52 Prince Street (between Lafayette & Mulberry), New York City.

This event has been organized thanks to Javier Molea.


Yarisa Colón Torres (1977) was born in Puerto Rico, and moved to Queens, New York when she was fourteen. She publishes her poetry by creating unique handmade books. "Caja de voces" (collaboration with Waleska Rivera, 2006), "¿Entrelínea o secuestro?" (French translation by Yarín Medina Gil, 2007), "Sin cabeza" (revised edition by Taller Asiray, 2011) are among her latest publications. Recently, she also published a limited edition of "Cibeles que sueña=Cybele As She Dreams", a poetry book written by Lourdes Vázquez and translated by Enriqueta Carrington.

Yarisa has shared her work at museums, universities and street fairs in Puerto Rico and abroad. Her work has been reviewed by El Diario/La Prensa, AHA Magazine, Claridad newspaper and Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, among others. In 2003, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College (NY) invited her to be part of the project “Puerto Rican Writers: History and Context”, which provides a space in the general archive to preserve and share her documents. Please visit her blog Espacioasiray.blogspot.com to view some of her work.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Problem with Hurricanes & Standards of Beauty

While the city shuts down and the rain pounds upon the hardened but delicately sensitive beautiful souls of the city, I find myself bored and lost in my head.
The campesino takes off his hat—
As a sign of respect
toward the fury of the wind
And says:
Don't worry about the noise
Don't worry about the water
Don't worry about the wind—
If you are going out
beware of mangoes
And all such beautiful
sweet things. * From Problems with Hurricanes by Victor Hernández Cruz
What little beautiful sweet projectiles should we be wary of - I wonder...

While I brave the storm alone, I browsed upon this New York Magazine article: “I Didn’t Think of Myself As Good-Looking at All” about "Richard Avedon’s muse and the first non-­Caucasian model to grace the pages of a major fashion magazine," China Machado, and it made me recall a recent conversation I had with my best friend while shopping on conceptions and standards of beauty, our features, and our own personal perceptions of beauty.

The title caught my eye right away and seeing this extraordinary woman's profile made me reflect on how powerfully alluring it is to claim and accept one's differences.


Growing up, I have often been conflicted by my features. I don't know anyone (female: biracial or not) who hasn't been. For me, it's been about having very striking/strong features (large eyes, full hair and lips, prominent nose and cheekbones) while being small and fair, dealing with the duplicitous of being both light and dark, small but big - basically not fitting in and the duality of being perceived as "exotic."

I've had a love/hate affair with my nose. My mother has near "perfect," flawless features, and most of the women in my family are beautiful effortlessly. Many people often tell me there is absolutely nothing wrong with my nose and often, I agree but sometimes I wish I had a ski slope or button nose and rarely, like photos of myself in profile, which at other times, makes me angry at how much of the beauty standards and norms for women today are both unrealistic and lacking genuine diversity, irregardless of how that affects all women everywhere.

While riding in a NYC cab on Thursday, my bestie observed that I may not have a "small" nose but the one I have fits me and if I ever changed it, I would be something worse than unattractive, I would be ordinary. I listened, of course  and contemplated the idea with a sense of doubt that I was perhaps being kindly placated, (as only a true best friend can do skillfully) but it wasn't till I read this article and looked at the pictures of China Machado that the "extraordinary" element of what she was saying resonated.

There is something about claiming your own particular beauty, of not being beautiful in a standard way, that can make you, even more striking.


I try as much as possible to find the upside and beauty in things, to see the divine in the every day, and even on a tempestuous weekend like this one, it's important to note how rare and extraordinary the spectacle of nature is and how very much WE are all a part of it - beautiful, powerful, and glorious just like a huracán.

Stay safe, everyone

and

may your journey always bring you home.


* This post is dedicated to my best friend Z, on the occasion of her birthday (you have to be pretty badass to get the gods to stir the winds and make the ocean surge for you) and every other extraordinary woman who's ever felt anything less than beautiful



Monday, August 15, 2011

New Book: Josefina's Sin By Claudia H. Long

A thrilling and passionate debut about a sheltered landowner’s wife whose life is turned upside down when she visits the royal court in seventeenth-century Mexico.
When Josefina accepts an invitation from the Marquessa to come stay and socialize with the intellectual and cultural elite in her royal court, she is overwhelmed by the Court’s complicated world. She finds herself having to fight off aggressive advances from the Marquessa’s husband, but is ultimately unable to stay true to her marriage vows when she becomes involved in a secret affair with the local bishop that leaves her pregnant.

Amidst this drama, Josefina finds herself unexpectedly drawn to the intellectual nuns who study and write poetry at the risk of persecution by the Spanish Inquisition that is overtaking Mexico. One nun in particular, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, teaches Josefina about poetry, writing, critical thinking, the nature and consequences of love, and the threats of the Holy Office. She is Josefina’s mentor and lynchpin for her tumultuous passage from grounded wife and mother to woman of this treacherous, confusing, and ultimately physically and intellectually fulfilling world.

About the Author
Claudia H. Long is a practicing attorney in Northern California. She wrote her senior thesis at Harvard University on the feminism of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz and revived her passion for Sor Juana when she wrote Josefina's Sin. She is the mother of two children, and lives with her husband.

New Book: The Maid’s Daughter

In light of Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent household mire, which catapulted his Latina housekeeper, Mildred Patricia Baena, into a hotbed of crucifiction by the media, comes a new book that sheds lights on what's it's like to be a live-in maid to a wealthy family and all the issues that come into play: The Maid's Daughter: Living Inside and Outside the American Dream by Mary Romero

This is Olivia’s story. Born in Los Angeles, she is taken to Mexico to live with her extended family until the age of three. Olivia then returns to L.A. to live with her mother, Carmen, the live-in maid to a wealthy family. Mother and daughter sleep in the maid’s room, just off the kitchen. Olivia is raised alongside the other children of the family. She goes to school with them, eats meals with them, and is taken shopping for clothes with them. She is like a member of the family. Except she is not.

Based on over twenty years of research, noted scholar Mary Romero brings Olivia’s remarkable story to life. We watch as she grows up among the children of privilege, struggles through adolescence, declares her independence and eventually goes off to college and becomes a successful professional. Much of this extraordinary story is told in Olivia’s voice and we hear of both her triumphs and setbacks.

We come to understand the painful realization of wanting to claim a Mexican heritage that is in many ways not her own and of her constant struggle to come to terms with the great contradictions in her life.

In The Maid’s Daughter, Mary Romero explores this complex story about belonging, identity, and resistance, illustrating Olivia’s challenge to establish her sense of identity, and the patterns of inclusion and exclusion in her life.

Romero points to the hidden costs of paid domestic labor that are transferred to the families of private household workers and nannies, and shows how everyday routines are important in maintaining and assuring that various forms of privilege are passed on from one generation to another.

Through Olivia’s story, Romero shows how mythologies of meritocracy, the land of opportunity, and the American dream remain firmly in place while simultaneously erasing injustices and the struggles of the working poor.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Book: TRIPLE CROSSING by Sebastian Rotella

Triple Crossing: A Novel by Sebastian Rotella


Valentine Pescatore, a volatile rookie Border Patrol agent, is trying to survive the trenches of The Line in San Diego. He gets in trouble and finds himself recruited as an informant by Isabel Puente, a beautiful U.S. agent investigating a powerful Mexican crime family.

As he infiltrates the mafia, Pescatore falls in love with Puente. But he clashes with her ally Leo Mendez, chief of a Tijuana anti-corruption unit. Politically charged violence escalates, plunging Pescatore into the lawless "triple border" region of South America and a showdown full of bloodshed and betrayal.

Writing with rapid-fire intensity, Sebastian Rotella captures the despair and intrigue of the borderlands, where enforcing the law has become an act of subversion. TRIPLE CROSSING is an explosive and riveting debut.

About the Author

Sebastian Rotella is an author and award-winning senior reporter for Propublica, an independent organization dedicated to investigative journalism. He covers issues including international terrorism, organized crime, homeland security and immigration. Previously, he worked for 23 years for the Los Angeles Times, serving as bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires and covering the Mexican border. He was a Pulitzer finalist in international reporting in 2006. He is the author of Twilight on the Line: Underworlds and Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border (Norton), which was named a New York Times Notable Book in 1998.

Read more:
The Border Bosses: A Conversation with Sebastian Rotella and Luis Alberto Urrea: Part I and Part II

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ode to Chicago

Last month, I visited Chicago for the first time and feel like I left a little piece of my heart there. The history, architecture, the new friends I made, the old friends I reunited with - just everything was amazing. I came back a new person, my soul was replenished. This week I spotted this cool, tilt-shift, miniature ode to Chicago and it literally makes my heart ache.

Check it out:




And here are some of my favorite photos from my trip:

The Harold Washington Library Center's roof, decorated with acroteria depicting owls, which are the Greek symbols of knowledge.

Oliver, the sweet, gentle, protective, red-nosed pitbull, who stole my heart

Like a good pilgrim, I went to the Bean (AKA Cloudgate)

Love this mural by the Art Institute of Chicago

Another great mural in an underpass, every city should have art in the underpasses

This dope building was just outside my hotel window

The very first morning I came across this dragonfly, later we went pass the Zoo and saw some there too. 

This photo of the Chicago River was taken from the 42nd floor of  the hotel

The lions at the Art Institute of Chicago, reminded me of home and the NYPL.



 
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