Sunday, January 29, 2006

Congratulations to Daniel and Maruca Salazar

2005 Mayor's Awards for Excellence in the Arts
Free community reception Tuesday, Feb. 21, 5:30-7:30 pm in Ellie Caulkins Opera House at Denver Center Performing Arts Complex. 2005 recipients are Ron Henderson, co-founder and Artistic Director of Denver Film Society; artists Daniel and Maruca Salazar; Shadow Theater Company; and Ellie Caulkins, Honorary Chair of Opera Colorado, whose late husband, George, is also being honored at this event.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Justo Vasco

On January 22, 2006, Justo Vasco, one of the founding members of the International Crime Writers Association, died from a stroke. He was 63. Cuban by birth, Justo moved to Gijón, Spain in 1996. He is survived by his son Enrique, his wife Cristina Macía, and Laura, his three-year-old daughter. Justo wrote crime fiction, la novela negra, and was friends with and had befriended many of the world's best crime fiction writers. In the past several years he had assumed several of the organizational and administrative responsibilities of the annual Semana Negra crime fiction literary festitval in Gijón. That's where I met Justo and I remember him as a gracious, affable man committed to crime fiction as literature. Rest in peace.

Mario Acevedo Interview

My interview of first-time novelist Mario Acevedo shows up on La Bloga, January 27. Mario's book is Nymphos of Rocky Flats (Rayo HarperCollins, March), the story of private eye Felix Gomez, who recently returned from Iraq as a vampire and who is hired to investigate the strange outbreak of nymphomania at infamous Rocky Flats. Something for everybody. Mario is a funny guy and some of that humor comes through in the interview.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lucha Corpi Interview

I recently interviewed my friend Lucha Corpi for La Bloga. She said some very intriguing and insightful things about writing, Chicana/o Literature, crime fiction, poetry versus fiction, etc. Go to La Bloga and read the interview there - it will be posted January 20. I may store it here on this site as well.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Max Martínez

Max Martínez died in November, 2001. I'd like to belatedly commemorate the anniversary of his death by reprinting a short piece I wrote about Max for the 2002 San Antonio Inter-American Bookfair & Literary Festival.

"A few years ago for a review I wrote: 'White Leg grabs the reader by the throat almost from the first page and doesn’t let go until the last gunshot when the reader finally must gasp in relief with a worried, nervous shake of the head. ... Martínez has injected his own droll humor and warped vision in the book, and his characters speak with validity about their dead-end lives, cheap betrayals, and misplaced values. ... Played against a backdrop of Texas small-town politics, family scandals, and the pillars of greed and racism, White Leg definitely is not a casual stroll through literary lane.'

Max’s life was at least as colorful and hard-boiled as that of any of his characters, yet I remember that he treated my wife and me with utmost respect, and a gentle graciousness. My wife loved the man, if for nothing more than that they shared a passion for greasy, sloppy food smothered with chile and Mexican attitude; sly, underdog humor; and music that makes you want to dance.

When we traveled to San Antonio he showed us his town, and we learned not only about his writing and his extensive knowledge of Chicano literature, but also about puffy tacos, his favorite bar, the best place to listen to Chicano music, and his own brand of chisme.

I will always see San Antonio through his eyes–the eyes of a man who drank and smoked too much, a man who knew too much, who wanted too much out of life but who lived it on his own terms, and, so, he suffered a bit. He didn’t achieve the literary fame that rightfully belongs to him, but he wrote exactly the kind of books and stories he wanted to write. He wasn’t the center of attention at a party or any other kind of gathering, but he certainly was among the most interesting people anywhere. At the end of his life, he lacked what we sometimes use to measure success: wealth, fame, power. But at the end, Max had friends who remembered him with cariño and respect, who wished they had spent more time with the guy, and who were actually fond of him. He also left an enduring legacy in his writing–his articles, novels and the stories that only he could tell. Max, I can only say that your writing nailed it, bro."

Martínez wrote three novels, Layover (Arte Público Press, 1997), White Leg (Arte Público Press, 1996) and Schoolland (Arte Público Press, 1988), and two collections of stories, The Adventures of the Chicano Kid (Arte Público Press, 1982) and A Red Bikini Dream (Arte Público Press, 1989). It appears as though all except Adventures of the Chicano Kid are still available from the publisher.