Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Book: What You See in the Dark by Manuel Muñoz

What You See in the Dark by Manuel Munoz is called a stellar new first novel by Publisher's Weekly: " In 1959, the Director (i.e., Alfred Hitchcock) arrives in Bakersfield, Calif., to film Psycho, along with the Actress (i.e., Janet Leigh), who's struggling to get a handle on the character she will portray.

Providing counterpoint to the events surrounding the making of the iconic Hollywood film, including the search for a motel to serve as the exterior of the Bates Motel, is the story of locals Dan Watson and Teresa Garza, whose doomed love affair ends in murder.

The author brilliantly presents the Actress's inner thoughts, while he handles the violence with a subtlety worthy of Hitchcock himself. The lyrical prose and sensitive portrayal of the crime's ripple effect in the small community elevate this far beyond the typical noir."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quijote and Caliban: A Different Look at Creolization

Distinguished Professor Sidney W. Mintz will be giving a guest lecture, "Quijote and Caliban: A Different Look at Creolization," on Monday, April 4th at 5:00pm at New York University's King Juan Carlos Center Auditorium.

Date: Monday, April 4th, 2011, 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Location: Auditorium of KJCC,  53 Washington Square South, 

(sponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies Research Colloquium Speaker Series, New York University).

The title for the Spring 2011 Colloquium series is "Our America: Cross Currents and Intimate Dialogues in the Making of a Hemisphere." The idea of America has long been dissected and reconstituted by a number of ideologues, theorists, policymakers, artists, activists, and ordinary people. Each has sought to craft a new existence that distinguished itself from “Old World” tyranny and tensions, significantly through the creation of imagined communities of identity and belonging, based on various cultural, political-economic, and social criteria.

In a “New World” where delineations of territory and definitions of home have shifted as populations, resources, and hegemonies respond to global and local forces, debated claims to “our America” (to borrow from 19th century Cuban intellectual Jose Marti) reveal “America” to be an extraordinarily malleable notion, one that shapes and reflects understandings of belonging, identity, rights, and justice--across shifting borders and diverse conceptualizations of region and hemisphere.

Emphasizing anthropological and historical approaches, this course will explore “our America” as simultaneously sites of empirical practice and imagined ways of being, where the interfaces, or cross currents among “American” ideas, dialogues, and communities raise questions about the ways data inform categories of analysis as well as categories of experience. 

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Book: Destiny and Desire by Carlos Fuentes

Destiny and Desire: A Novel byCarlos Fuentes:
Winner of the Cervantes Prize

Carlos Fuentes, one of the world’s most acclaimed authors, is at the height of his powers in this stunning new novel—a magnificent epic of passion, magic, and desire in modern Mexico, a rich and remarkable tapestry set in a world where free will fights with the wishes of the gods.

Josué Nadal has lost more than his innocence: He has been robbed of his life—and his posthumous narration sets the tone for a brilliantly written novel that blends mysticism and realism. Josué tells of his fateful meeting as a skinny, awkward teen with Jericó, the vigorous boy who will become his twin, his best friend, and his shadow.

Both orphans, the two young men intend to spend their lives in intellectual pursuit—until they enter an adult landscape of sex, crime, and ambition that will test their pledge and alter their lives forever. Idealistic Josué goes to work for a high-tech visionary whose stunning assistant will introduce him to a life of desire; cynical Jericó is enlisted by the Mexican president in a scheme to sell happiness to the impoverished masses.

On his journey into a web of illegality in which he will be estranged from Jericó, Josué is aided and impeded by a cast of unforgettable characters: a mad, imprisoned murderer with a warning of revenge, an elegant aviatrix and addict seeking to be saved, a prostitute shared by both men who may have murdered her way into a brilliant marriage, and the prophet Ezekiel himself. Mixing ancient mythologies with the sensuousness and avarice and need of the twenty-first century, Destiny and Desire is a monumental achievement from one of the masters of contemporary literature.

Carlos Fuentes is the author of more than twenty books, including Happy Families, The Eagle’s Throne, This I Believe, The Death of Artemio Cruz, and The Old Gringo. He served as Mexico’s ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. He has received many awards and honors, including the Rómulo Gallegos Prize, the National Prize in Literature (Mexico’s highest literary award), as well as France’s Legion of Honor medal, and Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award. His work has appeared in The Nation, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times. He currently divides his time between Mexico City and London.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Days Like This

That depress me...

We've bombed Libya for three straight days now. (Iraq - rewind)

But people are still talking about Charlie Sheen.

And lots of folks are starting to complain about feeling swamped by information coming at us from everywhere and how it is affecting our brains.

And families are still (still after 9 days) being pulled out of the wreckage in Japan, only to face exposure to radiation.(Haiti - rewind)

Sunday was the first day of spring and the weekend even offered us a supermoon but yet there is snow in the forecast.

I feel like I could just sleep a million years.

Lit Links & Scoops

The Postmodern Book: Written On A BlackBerry, In Airplanes

Marketer Interview: Linda Duggins, Director of Multicultural Publicity at Hachette Book Club

Is All Publicity Good Publicity? (A research "paper concludes that while well-known authors suffer from negative reviews by decreased sales of 15%, "For books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect, increasing sales by 45%.""

A new book by Isabel Allende, is scheduled for release in late 2012. "MAYA'S NOTEBOOK, set in contemporary Berkeley and Chile, will tell the story of a 19-year old girl who falls into a life of drugs and crime, and takes refuge on a remote island off the coast of southern Chile."

Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim Impacted by Japan Quake

Junot Diaz Reflects on Tokyo (via Newsweek)

Sign up to receive a free 2011 National Poetry Month poster here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Book: When Tito Loved Clara

A new book featuring a resilient Dominican-American female protagonist...

When Tito Loved Clara by Jon Michaud

Clara Lugo grew up in a home that would have rattled the most grounded of children. Through brains and determination, she has long since slipped the bonds of her confining Dominican neighborhood in the northern reaches of Manhattan. Now she tries to live a settled professional life with her American husband and son in the suburbs of New Jersey—often thwarted by her constellation of relatives who don’t understand her gringa ways.

Her mostly happy life is disrupted, however, when Tito, a former boyfriend from fifteen years earlier, reappears. Something has impeded his passage into adulthood. His mother calls him an Unfinished Man. He still carries a torch for Clara; and she harbors a secret from their past. Their reacquaintance sets in motion an unraveling of both of their lives and reveals what the cost of assimilation—or the absence of it—has meant for each of them.

This immensely entertaining novel—filled with wit and compassion—marks the debut of a fine writer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inhabiting Memory: Essays on Memory and Human Rights in the Americas

New book to be on the lookout for:

Inhabiting Memory: Essays on Memory and Human Rights in the Americas by Marjorie Agosin (Editor)
The relationship between historical or traumatic events and the memories created by them are examined in this selection of essays by writers who have been affected by the social and political upheavals of Latin America during the past four decades.

Recognizing the impact these events have had upon both collective and individual memory, these essayists also recall hard times living through the McCarthy era and the AIDS epidemic as well as the effects of living in exile from Chile and the bicultural reality around the U.S. border with Mexico.

Contributors include Nancy Barra, Claudia Bernardi, Julio Cortázar, June Carolyn Erlick, Eduardo Galeano, Maria Rosa Lojo, and Peter Winn.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thoughts from a Plane

After a grueling week, with lots of stress and little sleep, I flew back to NYC on Wedsneday night from Orlando, Florida. As the plane started lowering altitude, I looked out the window and saw something very similar to this:

And it occurred to me how much it resembled a computer circuit board up close.

I held in my breath in wonder, at the marvel of the repetitive nature of the world around us.

At the similarity at the core of things both enormous and microscopic... Of dendrites, and tree branches, and of vascular tissue of plants and waterways...

Pretty darn marvelous!

I'm glad I took that glance out the window to remind me of the wonder of our world.

Friday, March 11, 2011

On Red Riding Hood

Meet the Latino Star of Red Riding Hood:
SHILOH FERNANDEZ chatting with co-star MAX IRONS:  

To read:
Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality, And The Evolution Of A Fairy Tale by Catherine Orenstein

Don’t Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

Monday, March 07, 2011

Now You too can Colonize Puerto Rico from the Comfort of Home

  • Haven't you ever dreamed of being a greedy sugar plantation owner?
  • What about a land prospector?
  • Or how about being mayor of a colonized town in Puerto Rico?
  • Want to teach your children about history, economy, geography - all in one shot? 
  • How about letting them become successful tobacco growers?

Well, now you can! For the low price of $31.63, you can play the strategy and economic resources board game Puerto Rico, for the whole family, brought to you by Rio Grande Games.

"Prospector, captain, mayor, trader, settler, craftsman, or builder?

Which roles will you play in the new world?

Will you own the most prosperous plantations?

Will you build the most valuable buildings? You have but one goal: achieve the greatest prosperity.

The players are plantation owners in Puerto Rico in the days when ships had sails. Growing up to five different kind of crops: Corn, Indigo, Coffee, Sugar and Tobacco, they must try to run their business more efficiently than their close competitors; growing crops and storing them efficiently, developing San Juan with useful buildings, deploying their colonists to best effect, selling crops at the right time, and most importantly, shipping their goods back to Europe for maximum benefit.

A novel game system lets players choose the order of the phases in each turn by allowing each player to choose a role from those remaining when it is their turn. No role can be selected twice in the same round. The player who selects the best roles to advance their position during the game will win.

Winner of an International Gamers Award in the General Strategy category for 2003.

Chosen Best Strategy game in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands and USA.

Winner of the Golden Feather for the best game rules.

Shipping: Currently, item can be shipped only within the U.S. and to APO/FPO addresses." [Does not ship to PR!]

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Simon and his Damn Chalk Drawings

Forgive me, I'm having a nostalgia moment.

Does anyone else remember Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings?

I think Simon left his mark on a lot of the 1970's & 1980's generation. What child hasn't ever wanted to step into a drawing, book, or some other realm? Hmm, maybe someone should ask James De La Vega or the director of the iconic early music video for Aha's Take on Me if he ever watched this show!

Note: This theme song has to be one of the stickiest ever, right up there with the Brady Bunch song. Sometimes it plays in my head for absolutely no good reason. Fess up, I know I am not the only one. [walks away humming the theme song...]

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

HootSuite in the Library -- A NYPL Case Study

The New York Public Library is the largest public library on Twitter and a star in movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's and Sex and the City. Hootsuite created a case study exploring how @NYPL used HootSuite to efficiency serve their audience. They even won an award for their unique Tweeting efforts – Congrats!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Anatomy of a Book

Brian Dettmer, of Atlanta, creates these sculptures using knives, tweezers and surgical tools. Via The Book Surgeon, see more at Brian Dettmer's website
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