Pimp-o-rama, plus lighter shelves, and the mighty power of the simple pen
Much to pimp this week.
Manuel Ramos, winner of a Colorado Book Award and an Edgar nominee, hosted the launch party of his newest novel, King of the Chicanos, at the Tattered Cover on Colfax. The title alone is an indicator of the cultural freight Manuel chose to pull. But the novel is no homage to the Chicano movement, rather it's the story of Ramon Hidalgo, a man lifted, then dashed, by his ambition and hubris.
A sample of the dazzling prose is this last paragraph of the opening chapter when Pancho Arango reluctantly attends the funeral of Ramon Hidalgo, the story's protagonist:
"Arango could not hold back the rush of emotion that slammed him as the coffin was lowered into the hole in the earth. His tears fell and were sucked into the dust the same way that Ramon's physical remains were sucked into the dark void of the grave. A few of the others noticed Arango's emotions, assumed wrong conclusions about him and what he was doing there, and one or two even nodded in recognition. Despite the crowd, the buzz from the television camera and the rolling sway of the earth caused by the burial of the man who had once been a god, Arango stood alone, as tall and straight as he could manage under the weight of all he knew, all he had witnessed, and he convinced himself that only he among all of them had a right to be there. He had been the one who had truly listened to Ramon when all the others heard only blasphemy, who talked, shouted, cursed at him when he failed to respond, and who walked out on him when it was much too late for such drama. Pancho Arango made himself believe that he, alone, knew the story."
Later in the week, at the Tattered Cover LoDo, William Haywood Henderson
, of Lighthouse Writers Workshops, presented the re-release of his debut novel, Native
, now issued by Bison Books of the University of Nebraska Press. He was interviewed by Chris Ransick, Denver Poet Laureate, and Bill spoke at length about the strangeness of revisiting a book he had written fifteen years ago. Interestingly, Bill's book addressed the same themes of gay awareness, isolation, and in the same locale as was narrated in Annie Proulx's later work, Brokeback Mountain
. Just as politics served as the backdrop for King of the Chicano
s, in Native
, the AIDS plague of the 80s casts its malevolent shadow on the story's central characters. Despite the dark tone of his book, Bill charmed the audience with his sunny wisdom and easy humor.
Now in the world of urban fantasy, fellow Leaguer Stacia Kane (she packs a switchblade) is featured starting Monday, May 24, at our good pals, Bitten by Books
. Enter the contest and win cool shwag.
And there's even more good news about another Leaguer. Nicole Peeler is taking a position as an assistant professor at Seton Hill, in Pennsylvania, in the country's only MFA program for writing popular fiction. One of us is finally inside the ramparts of literary academia. Heh, heh, heh.
Here is a picture of something that is not there. By that I mean, some books are missing. One thing we writers have in common is that we love books. Then at what point do we admit that we're about to buried under the stacks that teeter against our walls? I had to clear some of the clutter from my shelves so I boxed up books that I've toted for years, from New Mexico, to Georgia, California, Alabama, Texas, California again, and now to Colorado. Most were history books that I've kept as reference for stories that I admit I'll never write. They were sold to a used book store in the hope of finding them good homes. Books that continue to crowd my shelves, even though I may not ever read all of them, are the signed copies. I know how hard it is to get published, so I think it's good karma that I keep them.
The iPad has amazingly seductive software for writing, part of the package deal of embracing a new, more sophisticated, more capable you. Yet really, all that sexy techie stuff doesn't make writing any easier. Despite the technology, sometimes I have to unplug, go hide, and crank out the words by hand. Using a pen. On paper. I avoid taking a laptop, and especially keep away from that time suck hole known as the Internet. I find that a change in locations, usually a coffee shop (because writers and coffee shops go together like sailors and brothels) helps give me a fresh perspective and loosen those stubborn words.
If you haven't yet seen the photos of my comic book signing,
Have a great week!