Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Lost Narrative from the Civil Rights Era

PHOTOGRAPHS OF MY FATHER
A Lost Narrative from the Civil Rights Era
by PAUL SPIKE
A Re-Issue of 1973 Knopf First Edition 
With a new Afterword by Paul Spike

Trade paper $17.95 / 978-1-941026-23-6
E-Book $17.95 / 978-1-941026-24-3
Publishes March
2016

In 1966, a man killed civil-rights leader Rev. Robert Spike. Was it an assassination? Was it simply murder? Paul Spike attempts to rescue his father and his self with the truth.

“So unforgettable that I felt my heart was breaking when I came to the end.” —Paul Auster

At the National Council of Churches, Robert Spike had organized American churches to support the passage of both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, to march in Selma and to organize in Mississippi.  An important white leader in the black civil rights struggle, he helped the LBJ White House pass legislation and write crucial civil rights speeches. In the midst of what he described as “the dirtiest fight of my life” struggling to save a federal Mississippi education program, he was viciously murdered in Columbus, Ohio. The murder was never solved. Very little effort went into finding the murderer. The Columbus police and the FBI hinted the unsolved murder was connected to Spike’s undisclosed gay life. During his father's rise in the civil rights movement, Paul Spike lived a life typical of a young man in the 1960s, finding his way through a labyrinth of booze, drugs, and girls. At Columbia University, he was active in the 1968 student rebellion and friends with many SDS radicals. That rootless life ended with his father's murder.

“We don’t believe these assassinations are an accident. We believe there is a conspiracy. Too many of our most important leaders have been assassinated.  John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert, Dr. King, Robert Spike…”  —Hosea Williams, SCLC civil rights leader
“So we not only believe Mr. Spike's story and participate in its comedy, its terror, its extreme pain and ultimate triumph. We also can identify with the author to the point where we understand both his private suffering and the rage he finally vented against the system. For Mr. Spike doesn't whine or exhort or rationalize or rail or ask for sympathy. He simply states how things were with the utmost insight and candor.”  —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times in a review of the first edition of Photographs of My Father
After Robert Spike’s death, Martin Luther King wrote to his widow and two sons— “Deeply saddened to learn of the death of our dear friend Bob Spike. His death comes as a great loss to the nation and to the fellowship of the committed. He was one of those rare individuals who sought at every point to make religion relevant to the social issues of our time. He lifted religion from the stagnant arena of pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities. His brilliant and dedicated work in the National Council of Churches will be an inspiration to generations yet unborn. We will always remember his unswerving dedication to the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people for freedom and human dignity. It was my personal pleasure and sacred privilege to work closely with him in various undertakings as we continue to grapple with the ancient evils of man’s inhumanity to man. We will be sustained and consoled by Bob’s dedicated spirit. Please know that we share your grief at this moment and you have our deepest sympathy and most passionate prayers for strength and guidance in these trying moments.”
In the Afterword of this re-issue of Photographs of My Father, Paul Spike says, “Murder is an indelible stain on a family. It never fades. This book I wrote about my father's murder was an attempt to rescue him and myself with the truth. Of course, that was not going to work like I hoped when I was 23 years old. It doesn't matter. I still believe the hard truth can rescue us from the easy delusions of our political history and that is why I want Photographs of My Father—and the truths I learned after this book was first published—to be read today. Now, after almost 50 years, I understand why I tried to do this. And why I left America. I still dream of justice for my father.”



PAUL SPIKE is the author of five books. A former editor of Punch magazine, his writing has appeared in many publications, including the Village Voice, The Sunday Times, Vogue, the TLS and The Paris Review. He now lives in London. Photographs of My Father was published in 1973 when Paul was 23 years old and named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, 1973.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

XAVIER DOES BILINGUAL XMAS: The classic CHARRO CLAUS AND THE TEJAS KID!

CHARRO CLAUS AND THE TEJAS KID

Written and Illustrated by Xavier Garza
9781933693248
Cloth $17.95 
HARDBACK XMAS SPECIAL 
$10.00 plus 25% Discount EQUALS$7.50
Ho! Ho! Ho!







Santa needs help! Abracadabra! Cousin Pancho and little Victor become Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid!

"Even Santa Claus sends the jobs he is unable or unwilling to do to Mexico...in this colorful storybook by local author-illustrator Xavier Garza...The simple South Texas Christmas tale is printed in both English and Spanish, allowing for several different bilingual reading opportunities...Charro Claus is the perfect gift for the children of your Minute Men relatives." —San Antonio Current

Let’s welcome Santa’s newest helper: his cousin Pancho, a farmer living down in South Texas who is so smart he speaks Spanish and English. Back in the day, Pancho was a mariachi singer with a whole lot of style and a fancy sombrero. But as the years passed, Pancho got, well, a little older and a little wider all around. Then one night his primo Santa Claus showed up. Santa needed some help! Pancho volunteered. And then, poof, Santa transformed Pancho into the resplendent Charro Claus with his incredibly Flying Burritos. And Charro Claus, it turns out, even had his own surprise elf—his nephew Vincente!

All Christmas Eve, Vincente and Pancho deliver toys to the boys and girls on the border. Neither rain, cloudy skies, wire fences nor concrete walls keep them from covering every inch of their newly assigned territory. And they don’t forget a single town or city. How could they? The border is their home.


A native of the Rio Grande Valley, Xavier Garza is an enthusiastic author, artist, teacher and storyteller whose work is a lively documentation of life, dreams, superstitions, and heroes in the bigger-than-life world of South Texas. Garza has exhibited his art and performed his stories in venues throughout Texas, Arizona and the state of Washington. He lives with his wife and son in San Antonio, Texas, and is the author of five books. 
Especially great to get young boys reading!



Monday, December 7, 2015

PLAYING FOR THE DEVIL'S FIRE: A YA NOVEL ABOUT MEXICAN DRUG WARS, AVAILABLE FEBRUARY 2016

PLAYING FOR THE DEVIL’S FIRE
A Novel for Young Adults
Phillippe Diederich
Cloth $16.95 / 9781941026298
Paper $11.95 / 9781941026304
E-book $11.95 / 9781941026311
Publishes February 2016

The bittersweet odyssey of a boy coming of age through a landscape broken by drugs, crime, and corruption.

In Playing for the Devil’s Fire, we ride a young Mexican boy’s emotional helter-skelter as he gradually understands the hopelessness of his battle against evil. Through the hero Boli and his luchador sidekick El Chicano Estrada, Phillippe Diederich has found a brilliant way of going behind the headlines to show that the Mexican tragedy is about real people.
Alan Riding, author of Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans

Phillippe Diederich’s Playing for the Devil’s Fire is a frightening and gripping story of what happens when evil takes control of a small town. Boli, a baker’s son, gives us a firsthand understanding about the long plague of Mexico’s drug wars, the disappearances of those willing to speak out, and the helplessness common people feel when their leaders choose money over justice. Boli’s friendship with El Chicano Estrada, an itinerant masked luchador, recalls the same odd and deep bond Huck and Jim formed in Twain’s great book. The stakes are just as high here for a child whose heart is just as good.    
­Tony D’Souza, author of Whiteman and Mule

Phillippe Diederich, in his debut young adult novel, creates Boli, a 12-year-old boy who becomes our unwitting guide into the terrible tragedy of Mexico’s Narco Wars. Boli, his father and his mother, his sister Gabriela and the demented grandmother live in the tiny town of Izayoc, which in Nahuatl means the place of tears. The mountains around Izayoc had long protected their pueblo from the on-going drug wars that were roiling the rest of Mexico. That is, until the first sentence of the book:

It was a hot Sunday morning when we discovered the severed head of Enrique Quintanilla propped on the ledge of one of the cement planters in the plaza.

Then everything changes. Not apocalyptic changes, like phalanxes of men riding on horses with stingers for tails—but subtle ones. Poor neighbor boys turn up with brand-new SUVs with fancy girls hanging off them. Boli’s parents leave for Toluca, never arrive at their destination, and never come home. No one will talk about it. The priest starts saying mass in Latin. And then a washed-out masked wrestler turns up one day, a man only interested in finding his next meal. Boli hopes to inspire the luchador to set out with him to find his parents.

“Playing for the Devil’s Fire," says Diederich, "is a novel born from my nostalgia and deep sorrow for Mexico. I wanted to put a face to the statistics we hear about, to the over 60,000 to 100,000 deaths in the so-called war on drugs that has ravaged the country. I wanted to address the corruption and the senseless narco violence that is tearing the country apart. I chose the point of view of a 12-year-old boy because I have a 12-year-old son, and because when I was that age, I experienced some crazy adventures with my friends in the outskirts of Mexico City.“


Phillippe Diederich, born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in Mexico City. He worked there for half of a decade as a photojournalist, traveling through the country extensively and witnessing the terrible tragedies of the Drug Wars. He thinks of Mexico as his home—as his country.






Tuesday, December 1, 2015

OOPS! Did you forget to give thanks for Poetry?

Oh, don't worry. There's still time. Buy a few books of poems. And remember what William Carlos Williams said in "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"

My heart rouses
thinking to bring you news
of something
that concerns you
and concerns many men.  Look at
what passes for the new.
You will not find it there but in
despised poems.
It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

AS FAR AS I KNOW
A Book of Poems   
Joseph Somoza 
Trade Paper $15.95 / 978-1-941026-25-0

Remember the poetry of William Stafford? Stafford’s quiet wisdom? Good. Now listen up. Joseph Somoza wanders the same territory. Differently.

This is a beautiful book. A wise book. For Joseph Somoza, language, and the world around, is like a river, forever changing and flowing toward the sea, going this way and that, according to the geography. He allows the poem to follow along, he says, “to build itself, allow(s) words to call up other words through aural and memory associations and syntactic demands, and see where it will lead.” It’s a poetry of intimacy and celebration of being human.

BEAUTY IS A VERB
The New Disability Poets
Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen: Editors
Trade Paper $19.95 / 978-1-935955-05-4

[BEAUTY IS A VERB] is going to be one of the defining collections of the 21st century —and let’s hope it doesn’t take nearly half a century for us all to recognize it. 
Ron Silliman

This powerful anthology attempts to—and succeeds at—intimately showing (meaning, at various times and among many other aims, sharing the experience of, defining the self in terms of, refusing to define the self in terms of, trying to define, exploring the indefiniteness of) disability through the lenses of poetry... 
STARRED REVIEW, Publishers Weekly

Beauty is a Verb is the first of its kind: a high-quality anthology of poetry by American poets with physical disabilities. Poems and essays alike consider how poetry, coupled with the experience of disability, speaks to the poetics of each poet included.

OTHERWISE, MY LIFE IS ORDINARY
A Book of Poems 
Bobby Byrd
Trade Paper $15.95 / 978-1-935955-75-7

“Bobby Byrd has wrought a singular music over the years made of memory, love, place and a kind of bluesy Zen. Each book of poems is a hymnal to life. He adds to the joy in this new sunburned collection that digs its toes into the El Paso grit but stretches its mind into the stars. I love this book.”
—novelist Luis Alberto Urrea

“These poems devastate me with how fearless and funny they are. The big notions are contained in our smallest everyday interactions and Bobby Byrd will not let anyone forget it.” —poet Connie Voisine


“Byrd writes poems like a novelist. Epic ones. His lines are full of fiction, bullshit and beauty.” —poet and novelist Eileen Myles 

ELEGIES IN BLUE
A Book of Poems
Benjamin Alire Saenz
Trade Paper $13.95 / 978-0-938317-64-7

To write well about your life, you need to have a life worth writing about. On that score, Saenz, a son of the Rio Grande border, hits pay dirt. At that border, poverty meets wealth more starkly than anywhere else except, perhaps, at Israel’s fences between Jews and Palestinians. When a writer there speaks of himself, he can speak of his people and how the border defines them. That Saenz does in verse and prose poems distinguished by simple mellifluousness, clear imagery, and effortless balancing of the oracular and the personal voices. 
Booklist

“Elegies in Blue" again establishes Benjamin Saenz as the “must-read” poet of our times: a man who sings truths, often clothed in discomfort, but nonetheless what we need to save us. Large and full, these poems arrest our hearts and rouse us to act. Poems that can do that belong among the best."
—poet and memoirist Luis J. Rodriguez