Saturday, November 07, 2015

Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews by Daniel A. Olivas

Daniel A. Olivas’ Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews provides a fascinating, penetrative look at the Latino/a writer’s perspective and the creative process by compiling a collection of Olivas’ own writing and a collection of his interviews with other Latino/a writers. By the end, the reader will have explored a multitude of topics concerning cultural inclusion/exclusion and the Latino/a experience, all the while digging ever deeper into what it means to be a writer and how that work comes to be.

First come Olivas’ own essays.  This collection creates a kaleidoscopic montage of moments and musings on why writing is something that Olivas cannot not do and how his particular perspective, as a writer, lawyer, Latino is both singular and universal; it is his own, but it is also all of ours. His themes are more than just cultural. They are about identity and history and how we find ourselves situated in the world.  In “Still Foreign Correspondent” he explains that his writings “…though reflecting on my cultural experiences, nonetheless focus on universal themes such as love, family dynamics and life’s struggles.  In other words, I use fiction to confront the vagaries of the human condition.”  This universality of experience is engaging and unifying, showing us that individual experience is not a disconnected, relativistic thing but a part of a larger whole, an opportunity to see how we all have something to contribute. All experiences are valid and they matter, and Olivas’ love for writing inspires readers to acknowledge it as something that is worth sharing.  His detailing of his creative process throughout these essays illustrates and inspires. A particularly excellent example comes in the essay “Writers Write. Period” where he emphasizes, “A writer finds time to write regardless of hectic schedules, energetic children, and needy lovers. No excuses.” He will then prove this point in the second half of the book, by interviewing other Latino/a writers.

This second part of the book demonstrates what it means to be a writer and the work that it takes to establish that role.  His interviews of many well-known Latino/a writers continue his project of highlighting the creative process and shared experiences.  One of the most fascinating notes comes from Olivas’ Introduction asks the reader to remember that “the responses are frozen in time. That is to say, the authors would not give precisely the same answers today.”  This reminder gives each writer’s interview an emphatic resonance, offering a snapshot of the writer in a particular moment, emphasizing the importance of change and evolution of their work.

Keeping this in mind when reading the interviews from writers like Sandra Cisneros, Aaron Michael Morales, and Reyna Grande, allows us to see the writer’s voices as not indicative of their entire writing philosophy, but as an experience shared in order to contribute to the larger community.  It bridges the two sections of the book with the theme of a collective and communal experience created from individual stories.  The interviews focus on the where the call to arises and how each writer answers that call in their own way. The effect, by the end of the interview section, is a sense of a writer’s writer, finding a way to give voice and agency to others and ultimately build a community created by and shaped through the shared experience of writing and how that experience is lived and worked in different ways by each of these writers.

Things We Do Not Talk About is more than a title—it’s a challenge.  Olivas’ project digs deep into the things we believe we “just do.” He asks his interviewees to dive into their creative process and how they find themselves situated in the world as writers and as part of the Latino/a community, while his own essays reveal the work of writer digging into the experiences that shape him (and us) and how that connects to a larger, shared experience. The end result inspires readers to accept the challenge.  What things do you not talk about? What would we gain from having that conversation? Olivas promises that it would be a worthwhile endeavor.

Things We Do Talke About is available from the SDSU Press story on Amazon here.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Naturalist Poetry: Defining Our Lives— Permanent Work: Poems 1981-1992. A San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press) Literature Release

Permanent Work: Poems1981-1992 by Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz details how inspiration can be found in all things, no matter how small, nor how much something is taken for granted that when taken apart it becomes more beautiful. Whether to observe the actions of humans or the nature that they are surrounded by; Muñoz paints us a vivid picture with carefully chosen words to give a new perspective of the world.

Time is something that affects all living creatures, slowly chipping away at life, incidentally, however, this decay adds to the beauty of creation. With new life comes death, followed by decay, loss, and loneliness. Muñoz shares these emotions with so few of words, painstaking, carefully, perfectly chosen without muddling the overall ideology or naturalistic tendencies of the work.  "The world/ Offers itself/ And reverberates/ My eyes/ Perceive/ The clarity of each object" (Dawn, 11).His work transcends a sense of surrealism, this helps Muñoz grasp the details of the surroundings, taking them apart, bit by bit, and in doing so, he exemplifies its beauty.

Life is intertwined and tangled with so many constraints, "The chaos/ To which all living beings/ Belong" (49) we all affect one another, and influence our surroundings without a conscious effort. Simply living is enough create, destroy, and stagnate. "Who am I/ To die now/ To live now/ That everything is over" (12). A progression of human life can be summarized in so few of words with such accuracy, how difficult it can be to continue to go on as strongly as before with the same positive mindset. 

Muñoz shows us how our lives are our own to create and lead them through our choices, "I am the alchemist who transforms/ The basest metals into glowing gold" (41). Only with our own hands can we choose worth of our existence. Only the owner of their own life can weigh their worth. 

To read more of PermanentWork: Poems 1981-1992 follow the link to purchase.

Read the latest San Diego State University Press Blog release here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Art of Identity: Goat Tails and Doodlebugs by Everett Gee Jackson. A San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press) Release

Goat Tails and Doodlebugs is a classic tale of finding their roots. With all great artists comes a great beginning, Everett Jackson is no exception. He writes of his trials through childhood, which demonstrates his upbringing in search of his identity. Going as far as undecided gender and race, He slowly begins to gain an idea of who he is through his travels in Texas, Southern California, Northern Mexico, and South America. His book reads like a diary, detailing his experiences in border towns, daily life on the road with his partners, and the story of finding himself though art. With many trips to Mexico and South America, Jackson, is exposed to both the natural beauty of the countries as well as the hearts of the people that surround him. The landscape, culture, and its people become a major inspiration towards Jackson's artwork. 

Jackson's tale shows the growth of an artist through finding his roots and coming in touch with those around him. Through his experience he changed as an artist, find out more about Jackson and his works of art by following this link to purchase

Get the most up to date San Diego State University Press Blog by clicking here.

Also take a look at Jackson's Four Trips to Antiquity featured here

Disappearing Individualism and Cultural Identity: Four Trips to Antiquity by Everett Gee Jackson. A San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press) Release

Four Trips to Antiquity

The absorption of an original culture slowly dwindling down and disappearing much like the Mayan's last remaining artifacts slowly crumble and fade away with time. By pollution, weather, tourists, or the passing by drunk each takes a toll on what is left of the artifacts. Remaining cultures are destroyed much in the same way from being absorbed, wiped out or becoming influenced by western influence. Eventually the only proof of their existence will be the words upon a textbook page. 

Within Four Trips Jackson describes the heritage and peoples of the South American Indians and the problems they face, from explosions in the cities to how easily they are swayed based on empty promises from politicians. "Look at your feet. Why are you not wearing shoes? Other people wear shoes, but not you Indians...I looked down at my own feet. Neither was I wearing shoes I discarded them when I arrived in Copan and had put on guaraches instead, the kind of sandals worn by the Indians...making the Indians dissatisfied with their lot might assure him their favor and their vote" (64). Stores also begin to take advantage of the Indians by capitalizing off them who without care contribute to the pollution of the area, "But they left the plaza littered with empty Dr. Pepper bottles. Obviously the store which sold the drink knew in advance that the Dr. Pepper-drinking Indians were coming"(64). This results in further destruction of cultural identity

"[It] was a great misfortune one moonlit night when a drunk came walking along here he suddenly had a violent impulse. To relieve his anger he hurled a big rock, or perhaps an empty bottle, into the figures face...It had withstood many storms for over thirteen hundred years, and then a worthless drunk had to disfigure its face" (165). Much like the drunk, it does not take much to destroy a civilization that survived for so long on its own. Whether its disease, xenophobia, or war once civilizations are wiped out they cannot be brought back much like these statues. 

A Current example of this is the indigenous people of Hokkaido, Northern Japan. The Ainu people were seen as a pest after mainland Japan acquired Hokkaido around the early 1800's. They were introduced to new diseases and used in forced manual labor where many died. They were never seen as Japanese nor have they been even now. In 1984 the Ainu census was shown that there were 24,381 left in Hokkaido, which is slowly growing after their numbers fell as low as 15,969 in 1931. If they had not fought back so hard, it would have been the last of them just as it has been for many tribes and indigenous people. 

If effort is not made to conserve our ancient cultures, they will be nothing more than crumbling stone, and words they grace the pages of forgotten textbooks. We can only hope that the pieces will live on in his artwork his own form of conservation.  

Take a trip to antiquity by purchasing the book here.

Get the most up to date San Diego State University Press Blog by clicking here.

Also take a look at Jackson's other book Goat Tails and Doodlebugs, blogged about here

Feminism & Border Issues-- Theatrics or Reality?: In this Corner, Short Plays by Rosina Conde, Ignacio Flores De La Lama, Juan Rea, and Hugo Salcedo. A San Diego State University Press Release (SDSU Press)

Shattered relationships and broken hearts are forced into the boxing ring, spouses become opponents pinned against one another, within their cage called marriage they must accept their differences and reconcile, bitterly part ways, or stay trapped in the hell that they have ensnared themselves in. 

"In this Corner," consists of four short plays by Rosina Conde, Ignacio Flores De La Lama, Juan Rea, and Hugo Salcedo. The plays illustrate gender roles and feminism in marriage, breaking stereotypes, and conforming to society's vision of what marriage "must" be. 

While dating there is a  fight to keep the other within grasp, mutterings of sweet nothings defiling the air from the sordid serpents tongue. Money, lingers like dollar signs in the eyes for prestige is everything. Even pity and is used to trap one another's heart like the slow strangulation of wedding bells chimes. 

Gender roles are brought up to the forefront of the arguments in all three plays, each demonstrating its impact on a marriage. "But you shouldn't have left. You should have stayed with me even though I said not to, because your duty was to follow me even if I rejected you. (With scorn.) That is the duty of all women, to follow their men" (48). Marriage is often viewed as a one-sided fight for control, with the ideology that one spouse must lead the other. "HE: Yes. SHE: "Yes." Is that all you can say? HE: (After a pause.) Yes. SHE: Idiot" (11). Women fight back in these plays to demonstrate that they can lead the relationship.

Marriage, in these plays, demonstrates emotions that can arise after the vows have been taken. Jealousy, selfishness, oppression, coupled with the lies and deceit that accompany them. 

These four plays are a modern day Ibsen's version of "The Doll House," which gives the reader a modernly founded basis on the gender roles in marriage and relationships. When comparing back to Ibsen (and many others) we can see that even over hundreds of years that the gloves are still on in this telling book about the roles of marriage. 

Taking place in Tijuana, these boarder town casted plays can represent a modern take on US/Mexico Boarder issues. Who will dominate whom? Who has the "right" to lead or be led? Indulge in these multi-perspective plays. Leave us your comment below!

Order your copy by following this link, and read the most up to date blogs of San Diego State Press here.

Also of interest

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Conspiracy Theory in Criticism: The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 5 by Robert Greenson— San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press)

She was found stripped with no sheets and barely alive. Strangely enough, there was nothing she could have swallowed, no pills with water or alcohol to suspect an overdose. It is speculated that when she was found she was barely alive, her doctor, Ralph Greenson, made sure that she was quiet before her story was known according to conspiracy theorists.

Ralph Greenson, the psychoanalysis, or the accomplice in Marilyn Monroe's death. Her trusted psychologist whom she may have had affairs with, administered the drugs to silence her. The secrets she held were too great for anyone's safety, with threats of exposing Kennedy family for who they really were.

The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed written by Jay Margolis, an investigative reporter and Richard Buskin a NY Times bestseller of 30 books. Creates a clearer image of what happened on her death August 5 1962 and what led up to it. 

With photos as well as interviews, they have been able to create a more concrete image of what happened and who was involved. She is said to have called the White House continually in order to get the President, Robert Kennedy's, attention. He finally concedes and visits her soon being seduced by her she ends up having affairs with both of the Kennedy brothers. Little by little, she began to write down the happenings and secrets held by the Kennedy's in a little red diary finally saying she would release it to the press if Robert Kennedy did not divorce his wife and marry her instead, making her the first lady.

Robert told Greenson that she was going to ruin him as well, despite her never saying so, he wanted to protect himself as well. She had been seeing him for anxiety and depression before it had turned into something else entirely. On the night of her death he was responsible for driving a needle of Pentobarital straight into her heart after a large dose of barbiturates in the form of an enema.

Explore the dialogue of his text, The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 5, and see what conclusion you can infer from Monroe's death. Murderer, or famed psychoanalysis— you decide after reading the book.  

Deconstruction of the Psychoanalytical: The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 4 by Ralph Greenson— A Psychologically Enlightening Journey of Criticism from The San Diego State University Press, SDSU Press

Ralph Greenson in his book The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 4, gives us a new perspective of the currently existing practices of psychoanalysis, where the classification and treatment of the patient breaks away from the traditional, classical mold created by the masters of psychology. 

This interview helps current psychologists and students of psychology to troubleshoot and aid certain patients who may not fit into a textbook category. Greenson takes his interviewer through the steps of treating patients in a calmer more conclusive manner, allowing for a more positive result with each session.

He shows us how certain speech patterns as well as choices of words can alter the patient's opinion of the psychologist. As a result, the patient becomes easier to treat as they open themselves up to further "investigation" by the psychoanalyst.

His book has made a systematic process for both students and practicing psychologists to follow in order to guide the patient towards treatment. Helping to avoid possible problems during sessions and confronting problems that arise. Freud plays a large part in Greenson's ideas and practices, breaking apart the id, ego, and super ego. Taking care to analyze all three during each evaluation to make sure the best course of treatment is taken to address the patient's problems. 

The DSM5 published in 2013 has new mental disorders showing that psychology is evolving and changing the fundamentals of treatment, mental disorders, and highlighting that classical evaluation does not always work.

To consider further exploration of Ralph Greenson's idea and psychoanalytical approaches to treatment and case studies follow this link to find his book.

In a follow up article, we will explore controversial theories about Greenson and his possible involvement in a relationship with Monroe, the Kennedy's love affair, and the possible murder of Monroe. Click here for the follow up article on conspiracy theory and Monroe!