Saturday, September 24, 2011

Upcoming October Literary Events

We were sadly stricken by the cancellation of this year's Latino Book and Family Festival usually hosted at Cal State Los Angeles. Last year's festival brought a huge success with the many authors that came to talk about their stories, the book signings, the vendor booths, the live music, and the great food. It was so spectacular that we marked our calendars for the next one; but, unfortunately, due to insufficient funding, the festival will not be returning in 2011.

Not to worry, because we did some digging and discovered some other literary happenings for October (which happens to be Hispanic Heritage Month, by the way.)

  • Legendary author, Sandra Cisneros, will make at guest appearance at Libreria Martinez - Sept 24 at 3pm (that's today!)

  • Latina author, Sandra Lopez, speaks at Fullerton Public Library - October 20 at 7pm

  • Teen Read Week at Los Angeles Public Library with YA author, Sandra Lopez - October 22 at 2pm

  • Victor Villasenor speaks at Libreria Martinez - October 22 at 3pm

  • Luis Rodriguez will talk about his new book at Libreria Martinez - November 5 at 4pm

Mark your calendars!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: The Heavens Weep for us

The Heavens Weep for us: And other stories by Thelma Reyna

If you enjoy Jhumpa Lahiri's short stories, or Sandra Cisneros' ability to portray ordinary Hispanic characters with engaging authenticity and universality, you'll enjoy Thelma Reyna's twelve stories in this thoughtful, moving, sensitive book. From the sheer poetry of the title story, to the complex depiction of a comatose woman and her guilt-ridden unfaithful husband, Reyna exposes the private griefs and losses we all experience in life and imbues her motley cast of characters with deep humanity, courage, and perseverance . Reyna's style is alternately quiet and intense, yet always insightful, poetic, and literary. Have a box of Kleenex and a dictionary by your side. She'll leave you thinking and discovering multiple layers of meanings in her stories long after you've read them. A Hispanic-American author, Reyna's stories speak to all of us, across ethnicities, age, gender, and social status.

Reviewed by: Bela M.

Review: The Heavens Weep for Us is a collection of short stories that are suppose to make you laugh and cry at the same time. I'll be honest--most of the stories did not have that effect on me; however, there was one that did. In "Little Box," an old lady named Petra visits her daughter and son-in-law in Chicago. During her stay, she takes the dog for a walk and discovers a little box along the way. It was a fancy box that just screamed, 'expensive.' Being that she likes collecting hand-me-downs, Petra took the box and hid it in drawer of her daughter's home. Her plan was to take it back home and add it to her vast collection. But Petra noticed something else during her Chicago visit. Her daughter's marriage may be falling apart. Not wanting to interfere, Petra leaves them to hash it out. Eventually, Petra jumps on a plane back to Arizona when she realizes that she forgot the little box she wanted to bring back with her. And that little box ends up causing some big trouble for her daughter's marriage. The conclusive irony was hilarious and sad.

Reyna has proven her great talent with a sensitive writing style used in these stories. I did, however, feel that some of these stories were unfinished--they had a solid beginning and a middle, but no ending. A story should have all three: a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Nonetheless, the best story was "Little Box."