Thursday, July 9, 2009

LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

In September Cinco Puntos Press will release LAST NIGHT I SANG TO THE MONSTER, a Young Adult novel by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Really, it's not just a young adult novel, but a novel for all of us. The narrator is Zach, an eighteen year old man. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic, and he’s is in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive—well, what’s up with that?

Below Ben reads the first few pages of Last Night I Sang to the Monster. It's a remarkable beginning for a novel. Immediately the reader is in Zach's world. Here is a piece from this first section:
I have it in my head that when we’re born, God writes things down on our hearts. See, on some people’s hearts he writes Happy and on some people’s hearts he writes Sad and on some people’s hearts he writes Crazy on some people’s hearts he writes Genius and on some people’s hearts he writes Angry and on some people’s hearts he writes Winner and on some people’s hearts he writes Loser. It’s all like a game to him. Him. God. And it’s all pretty much random. He takes out his pen and starts writing on our blank hearts. When it came to my turn, he wrote Sad. I don’t like God very much. Apparently he doesn’t like me very much either.
[PLEASE NOTE: If you are reading this on FACEBOOK, the Facebook software strips youtube video from blogs. You can watch the video at the Cinco Puntos Blogspot and we will upload the video into our videos on facebook.]



We're really honored to be publishing Ben's Last Night I Sang to the Monster. We think it's an important novel, and working with Ben--a close friend who lives here in El Paso and who we get to visit with all the time--is a great pleasure. It's so much fun to see a novel evolve from its first draft to its final production. And this process is what makes promoting the book such a pleasure. In sending out review copies John Byrd wrote the following in his letter of introduction:

I’ve read Last Night I Sang to the Monster a number of times in the editing process. Even after these repeated readings, I am surprised at the sense of calm that comes as I read this book. I’m surprised because this isn’t an easy book. Last Night tells the story of Zach, an alcoholic, a senior in high school. Only he’s not in high school, he’s in a rehab center and he doesn’t remember how he got there. He is pretty sure that he doesn’t want to be there. He doesn’t know if he has anywhere else to go. And the thing that he is being asked to remember is so horrible, he’s afraid it will kill him if he so much as tries, so he doesn’t try. He doesn’t want to remember, ever. It’s the sort of story that you wish wasn’t possible, had never happened.
But it does happen. Benjamin’s book won’t change that. But his compassion creates a road to a place where recovery and healing can take place. That’s when Zach is finally able to sing to the monster.
Last Night I Sang to the Monster is Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s third book for young adults. His first book—Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood (Cinco Puntos Press, 2005)—was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The American Library Association chose it as one of the Top Ten Books for Young Adults that same year. His second YA title, He Forgot to Say Goodbye (Simon & Schuster) won the Tomás Rivera Award.

And of course we are soon releasing Ben's new bilingual picture book--THE DOG WHO LOVED TORTILLAS / LA PERRITA QUE LE ENCANTABAN LAS TORTILLAS. He's once again teamed up artist and graphic designer Geronimo Garcia. This wonderful duo of paseños are the same guys who produced one of our all-time best sellers, A Gift from Papa Diego / Un Regalo de Papa Diego.

But that's for another blog entry. Please enjoy Ben's reading.

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