As I mentioned before, our Vamos a Leer book group has decided to keep meeting over the summer, but we’re going to take a short break from our typical young adult literature novles and read some books written for an audience a little older than the k-12 student. We’d love to have you join us, even if you haven’t come before. Since it’s the summer you may have a little more free time than during the school year. Come by and join us for some conversation and coffee–we’ll meet Monday June 3rd and Monday July 1st from 5:00 to 7:00 at Bookworks. Below I’ve included some information about our two book picks.
For Monday June 3rd we’re reading Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. If you’ve been around Vamos a Leer much, you know that Sáenz is one of our favorite authors, so we’re incredibly excited to read his new collection of short stories which recently won the 2013 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Click here to be taken to an interview with Sáenz about the book.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s stories reveal how all borders—real, imagined, sexual, human, the line between dark and light, addict and straight—entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It’s a touchstone for each of Sáenz’s stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Sáenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair. It’s a place of rich history and good drinks and cold beer and a long polished mahogany bar. Some days it smells like piss. “I’m going home to the other side.” That’s a strange statement, but you hear it all the time at the Kentucky Club.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a highly regarded writer of fiction, poetry, and children’s literature. Like these stories, his writing crosses borders and lands in our collective psyche. Poets & Writers Magazine named him one of the fifty most inspiring writers in the world. He’s been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN Center’s prestigious award for young adult fiction. Sáenz is the chair of the creative writing department of University of Texas at El Paso. (From Cinco Puntos Press)
For Monday July 1st we’re reading Queen of America by Luis Alberto Urrea. This book is the sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter. Based on recommendations from our book group, I finally read that one and loved it! So, I’m really looking forward to reading Queen of America. We scheduled this one for July so that everyone would have time to read the first book before we read the sequel.
At turns heartbreaking, uplifting, fiercely romantic, and riotously funny, QUEEN OF AMERICA tells the unforgettable story of a young woman coming of age and finding her place in a new world. Beginning where Luis Alberto Urrea’s bestselling The Hummingbird’s Daughter left off, QUEEN OF AMERICA finds young Teresita Urrea, beloved healer and “Saint of Cabora,” with her father in 1892 Arizona. But, besieged by pilgrims in desperate need of her healing powers, and pursued by assassins, she has no choice but to flee the borderlands and embark on an extraordinary journey into the heart of turn-of-the-century America.
Teresita’s passage will take her to New York, San Francisco, and St. Louis, where she will encounter European royalty, Cuban poets, beauty queens, anxious immigrants and grand tycoons-and, among them, a man who will force Teresita to finally ask herself the ultimate question: is a saint allowed to fall in love?
Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of, among other books, The Devil’s Highway, The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and Into the Beautiful North. Winner of a Lannan Literary Award and Christopher Award, he is also the recipient of an American Book Award, the Kiriyama Prize, the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Literary Award, a Western States Book Award, a Colorado Book Award, an Edgar Award and a citation of excellence from the American Library Association. He is a member of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. (From Amazon.com)
We hope to see you there! There’s no need to register, so feel free to just stop by in June and/or July. If you have any questions, just leave them in the comments and we’ll get back to you.