Monday, September 20, 2010

Elif Shafak on the politics of fiction

Great talk on TED by Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, although after watching the video I hesitate identifying her simply as Turkish. She speaks about the power of storytelling, the meaning of crossing borders, following the imagination beyond what is expected. As our friend Patsy Aldana from Groundwood Books reminds all the time (quoting another friend of hers): books are mirrors, books are windows. Shake out 20 minutes from your day and watch this fine talk. Much to think about. And of course now I need to go buy one of her novels.



As a follow up to this discussion: This idea of the politics of fiction is a complicated subject. Indeed, much of the impetus for the emphasis on "multi-culturalism" in U.S. letters from 1970 forward came from the hoity toity ignoring the aesthetics and work of different ethnicities, especially the work of people of color. But now it seems from Shafak's experience that the multi-culturalists have become the gatekeepers. They expect her, for instance, to write sad stories about Muslim women with veils. But she doesn't want to write about what she knows best. She wants her imagination to roam. The important thing, in all instances, is the work itself. Is it a good story, is it a good poem? Literature is always a river flowing downstream, going here and there, depending upon the geography of our imagination. --Bobby

Friday, September 17, 2010

David Thompson, May he rest in peace


with his wife McKenna

David Thompson--aka publisher of Busted Flush Press and manager of Murder by the Book Bookstore in Houston--died suddenly Monday at the age of 37. He was a sweet man, a guy who loved what he did, did it very well and stirred the waters gently in the world of crime fiction in the United States. He loved what he did. It radiated from. I knew him as a colleague because Busted Flush is also distributed by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, and Johnny Byrd and I looked very much forward to visiting with David and McKenna at Murder by the Book in late October. David was very excited about Lone Star Noir, an anthology of crime fiction that Johnny and I edited for Akashic Books. David, the generous man that he was, suggested writers and helped me track down others. He was a good guy, a friend to many.

I strongly suggest this link that will take you to novelist Alafair Burke's (yes, that first name is familiar to mystery lovers) blog. It's well worth the read. She really touches upon David the gentle man. Also, follow her link to the Houston Chronicle article about David's romancing of McKenna. Or maybe it was vice versa.

May David rest in peace.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

El Grito: ¡Viva, México!

RINGSIDE SEAT TO A REVOLUTION: AN UNDERGROUND CULTURAL HISTORY OF EL PASO AND JUAREZ: 1893-1923


"David Romo’s Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a fascinating glimpse into unknown scenes of the Mexican Revolution of 1911. He takes us into El Paso and Juárez-facing one another across the Rio Grande-in the years just before and just after the exciting events of the revolution itself. It is close up and personal history-through the eyes of an extraordinary cast of characters. It is "people’s history" at its best."--Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States
"David Romo’s micro-history is brilliant. Here you’ll find what official history seems to ignore: the salt of the earth, the surprising anecdote, rumors, the absurd. The odd relationship between El Paso and Mexico makes this book all the more fascinating."--Paco Taibo II, Mexican novelist and historian, author of Ernesto Guevara, Also Known as Che and a biography Pancho Villa.

Truly, the best seats in the house for watching the spectacle of the Mexican Revolution were located along the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas and its sister city Juárez, Chihuahua. Indeed..., these cities--like the city of Boston, Massachusetts, for the American Revolution--served as the intellectual crucible for the Mexican Revolution. This is where the first modern revolution of Latin America began. The heroes and images of this people’s uprising still populate the border’s cultural landscape like ghosts.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

JOE HAYES AND BEN SÁENZ PRIZE-WINNERS NOW IN PAPERBACK

Please note: On the website page for each of the books, directly under the box with title, price and shopping cart button, we've added the GOOGLE PREVIEW feature. Click on that button and you can see a sample of each book. By the way, Cinco Puntos feels very blessed to have these two men publishing books with us.

Dance, Nana, Dance / Baila, Nana, Baila--Joe Hayes’ bilingual collection of stories from the glorious island of Cuba has just been released in paperback. The collection has thirteen tales, a perfect mixture of stories from the Afro-Cuban and Hispano-Cuban traditions, told in Joe’s audience-tested style. His Spanish is perfect, and it reflects the language Joe heard on the island during his many visits there over the last ten years. Dance, Nana, Dance has received many honors--the 2009 Aesop Award; Críticas' Children’s Best Books of 2009; Skipping Stones Honor Book; Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2009; the Anne Izard's Storytellers' Choice Award; and the Américas Book Award Honor Book. Click here to learn more about Joe’s process of creating this book and his visits to Cuba.




Benjamin Saenz' much praised and award-winning children's book The Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfecto para soñar is also now out in paperback. So, what exactly is the perfect season for dreaming? For Octavia Rivera, it’s summer, when the sky is so blue and a few lovely clouds come floating along to decorate it. And on these first long days of summer, he is visited by some very interesting dreams where a cornucopia of wonderful things fall from a piñata. But who can Octavio tell? Tijuana artist Esau Andrade did the magical illustrations. Esau’s work is like Seurat and Magritte becoming best friends. They decide to run away from Europe and take a bus to Guadalajara but the bus gets a flat and they end up painting folk art in a little village in the mountains of Jalisco.

A Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfecto para soñar has been honored on 2008-09 Kids' Indie Next List; with the Tejas Star Book Award; the Paterson Prize Best Book for Children; the Texas Institute of Letters (TIL) Award for Children's Liiterature; Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2009; and as an Américas Book Award Honor Book

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Flood & the Rainbow on Texas Avenue


One day in July on a Saturday the skies opened up and in a matter of minutes the water was at our door.


The rain came closer and closer to walking right in the front door like he wanted to use the bathroom. Or look at the paintings. Why not? It was raining outside and the wind was blowing.


But of course like most of the monsoon rains in El Paso it blew away in 30 minutes and left us with a rainbow. And driving away that afternoon I saw the rainbow was sitting right at our doorstep. Good, I thought, we need that!

And now the school year has started. Come on down to Cinco Puntos at 701 Texas Avenue in El Paso or at our website in the neighborhood of digitized ether and look over our new books. Good stuff is happening. New books are ready. And we'll be there.