latino author spotlight oct 29, 6pm

Discover your new favorite author at our Latino Author Spotlight! This author meet + greet will feature two incredible authors: John Paul Jaramillo and Amy Sayre Baptisa. Monday evening 6pm-8pm at Maeva’s Coffee. Free drip coffee will be provided for guests of this event. John Paul Jaramillo, author of “The House of Order” and “Little Mocos”, was named Int’l Latino Book Award Finalist for both … Continue reading latino author spotlight oct 29, 6pm

quick review–the third policeman by flann o’brien

Such an odd and strange little book from O’Brien. What I liked: Definitely not a book you can easily categorize. The plot was meandering–more so than At Swim Two Birds–and completely unpredictable. A place wholly away from reality was the setting, and late in the novel we learn the “place” of the novel was a type of hell. Again, a novel reminding me of David … Continue reading quick review–the third policeman by flann o’brien

quick review: at swim-two-birds

Spending more and more time before getting to sleep at night reading and trying to re-develop my focus. And I decided to work on Barthelme’s syllabus and suggested readings. And O’Brien’s book At Swim Two Birds was a challenge–rather a maze of a book. A labyrinth, to steal from Borges. Have to admit I put the book away again and again. What I enjoyed: I … Continue reading quick review: at swim-two-birds

documentary recommendation: gabo–the creation of gabriel garcia marquez

I’ve been listening to One Hundred Years of Solitude as an audiobook and watching this documentary on Marquez’ life and work. I’m still taken by the idea of a large story following several generations–seven generations I think and I’m taken by the idea he was influenced by his Grandparent’s stories where local stories, fantastic details and family legends mix together. I also love how the … Continue reading documentary recommendation: gabo–the creation of gabriel garcia marquez

documentary recommendation: trudell

One of my favorite writers, activists and speakers. John Trudell: It has been, literally, the most blood thirsty, brutalizing system ever imposed on this planet. That is not civilization. That’s the great lie – is that it represents civilization. That’s the great lie. Or if it does represent civilization, and that’s truly what civilization is, then the great lie is that civilization is good for … Continue reading documentary recommendation: trudell

little mocos a novel in stories–book soundtrack–parts 1 and 2

Put together a quick listing of song titles I think work with each chapter of my book. Saw a few other writers I admire do this and so I thought I would try. More and more I like the idea of a movie-style book soundtrack. And I am finding this a fascinating exercise. Many of these titles are songs I listened to while drafting and … Continue reading little mocos a novel in stories–book soundtrack–parts 1 and 2

little mocos kirkus review

Little Mocos–a novel in stories: “Jaramillo’s (The House of Order, 2011) second novel in stories builds on his debut collection, and fans of that work will likely find much to enjoy here. His writing is crisp, concise, and realistic, with a gimlet eye for the details of his characters’ grim existences.” –Kirkus Reviews https://www.kirkusreviews.com/…/john-paul-jar…/little-mocos/ Continue reading little mocos kirkus review

coffee recommendation–comet coffee company st. louis

Spring Break and we found ourselves in St. Louis for a quick day trip. We stopped off at Comet Coffee Company St. Louis. D had a cappuccino and I had a pour over. I’m new to pour overs but the coffee was very sweet tasting and light. Specifically the menu reads: Francy Torres, Colombia, chocolate, marzipan, fruit punch, roasted by Kuma Coffee, Seattle, WA. The website says the … Continue reading coffee recommendation–comet coffee company st. louis

film recommendation: moonlight

I’ve not watched Boyhood and in fact I’ve not watched many films concerning youth and masculinity lately–mostly because of my teaching schedule and work. Moonlight though came up on some podcasts I listen to and admire. And I have to say the film is rather amazing–subtle and subdued. I was taken with the music and also with the visual metaphors–the use of water and beach scenes. So much … Continue reading film recommendation: moonlight

inside llewyn davis and the mobius strip narrative

Teaching a film as lit class this term and spending some time this week closely studying Joel and Ethan Coen’s pre-Bob Dylan period film Inside Llewyn Davis. I am particularly interested in the themes of crisis and purposeleness. I also like the feel that the narrative is a mobius strip trapping the main character. I am seeing many similarities with The Big Lebowski–another Coen brothers film I admire–in the … Continue reading inside llewyn davis and the mobius strip narrative

quick note–twin peaks, juan rulfo and spirit world voices

After a long semester of teaching I found some time to indulge in studying the novella Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo. I’ve been an admirer of Rulfo’s career and this book reads as a tremendous progression from his short stories I was introduced to in his book The Burning Plain. What I found in this work is a complex, surreal story of a long abandoned town, Comala, and … Continue reading quick note–twin peaks, juan rulfo and spirit world voices

podcast recommendation: this american life episode 562–the problem we all live with

Episode 562 This American Life–The Problem We All Live With I’ve lived and taught in the Midwest for ten years now and have yet to fully understand the place and the people. After the Michael Brown shooting and the Ferguson riots, I found this incredible episode of This American Life on Michael Brown’s school district–the worst district in the state of Missouri according to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Makes me … Continue reading podcast recommendation: this american life episode 562–the problem we all live with

series recommendation: master of none

Some time away from writing projects for the past few weeks so I’ve been enjoying Aziz Ansari’s series. The series is part Seinfeld and part Louie. The writing and situations are so well crafted. So much understanding and empathy in this series regarding race, diversity and representation in film and television. Can’t wait for a season 2. Continue reading series recommendation: master of none

eraserhead

This week I’m grading and meeting with students individually but still found some time to watch David Lynch’s Eraserhead on Criterion Blu-ray. Lynch says the surreal is the subconscious speaking to us. And this is one of my favorite surreal films. Great documentaries on the film here as well. After watching an early screening of the film, Lynch’s mother told him, “That’s a dream I … Continue reading eraserhead

quick review: cesar chavez

I’ve been waiting to watch Diego Luna’s film and finally had some time this weekend. The reviews were poor on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes and Marshall Ganz–a man who knew and worked with Cesar Chavez–criticized the film for the one dimensional version of Chavez’s life. I have to admit though I found Michael Peña’s portrayal of Cesar Chavez to be subtle and very powerful. Continue reading quick review: cesar chavez

documentary recommendation: the untold history of the united states

Peter J. Kuznick’s research translates well to this Oliver Stone directed series of hour-long documentaries. I found myself admiring the post-structuralism historical mode as well as the well constructed mix of photographs, film footage and news reels. Continue reading documentary recommendation: the untold history of the united states

the house of order now available on kindle and smashwords

available now on kindle, smashwords The House of Order–stories, the first collection of composite stories by John Paul Jaramillo, presents a stark vision of American childhood and family, set in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. 2013 International Latino Book Award Finalist–The Mariposa Award–Best First Book–Fiction Latino Stories.com 2013 Top Ten “New” Latino Authors to Watch (and Read) Continue reading the house of order now available on kindle and smashwords

hating writing

In the article “10 Famous Writers Who Hated Writing” from The Huffington Post, Bill Cotter discusses his “dark feelings” regarding what he labels as “the commission of the act of writing.” He lists quotes from famous authors revealing their angst on the very act of writing and he also discusses the problem of his own inarticulateness. And I must agree when Cotter jokes he would rather go to the emergency room … Continue reading hating writing

film recommendation: world’s greatest dad

This film is from 2009 and from director Bobcat Goldthwait. I missed it because of a limited release. I most admired Robin Williams playing a frustrated writer and teacher in this dark comedy. Love the scenes in poetry class. “I used to think the worst thing in life was ending up alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people … Continue reading film recommendation: world’s greatest dad

quick note on new semester and dead poets

A new semester will soon begin as I write this and my thoughts obsess over inspiring and motivating my students. It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been teaching since about 1999. I should be seasoned and secure in my teaching philosophy. Yet nothing concerns me more than motivating and caring for my students. The coursework comes easy but the technique in the classroom is … Continue reading quick note on new semester and dead poets

writerly gear: hybrid mechanical keyboard

I have had so many conversations with students about how great old school mechanical typewriters are for the feel and cadence in the act of writing. Yet we love the ease of the word processor. In fact once I had a dream I plugged an old typewriter into my MacBook Pro. I rarely post writerly gear on this blog but when I saw the Qwerkywriter prototype on … Continue reading writerly gear: hybrid mechanical keyboard

film recommendation: a scanner darkly

Lately for many reasons I feel I’ve been living inside of a Philip K. Dick novel, so I’ve been rereading a couple of my favorite–Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said and A Scanner Darkly. What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me, into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly, because I can’t any longer … Continue reading film recommendation: a scanner darkly

documentary recommendation: thank you mr watterson

Great documentary now available for streaming on Netflix. I’d been waiting to watch this one for a while. I was glad to see some insight into the reclusive artist Bill Watterson. Calvin and Hobbes has always been one of my favorite strips and I remember the last strip to this day. In fact, I found the description of Watterson and his thoughts on merchandising to … Continue reading documentary recommendation: thank you mr watterson

new year’s writing resolution

A few years back I made a joke to D about teaching and writing. I told her I was deciding to be a bad teacher and to focus on my writing. I told her I would be selfish. I would put my class work on cruise control. This was difficult to do because I feel such a responsibility to my students and I spend so much … Continue reading new year’s writing resolution

grading the college essay

Reading this defeatist article on Slate.com on grading the college essay. Rings true in many ways but why would I want to give standardized exams instead of essays? So as I prepare to spend the next three or four days reading my students’ work, I just have to keep telling myself to grade, and not to edit. In many ways this article goes against an essay … Continue reading grading the college essay

quick review of big sur feature film

Big Sur may be my least favorite Jack Kerouac novel. While On the Road and The Subterraneans captured youth and restlessness, Big Sur relates the aged, alcoholic Kerouac. And perhaps that is why I don’t enjoy the book. Kerouac’s persona is one of such a broken down writer unable to cope with fame and personal relationships. Kerouac’s obsession with death and the chaos of meeting up … Continue reading quick review of big sur feature film

quick review of junot díaz’ this is how you lose her

I’ve long read and admired Junot Diaz‘ style of prose. I’m almost embarrassed to say how much I’ve modeled my own work after his. This latest collection of work contains all the themes of trouble and failure at its heart. And also the redemption. I continue to admire how the work follows a consistent universe and also how his work stays composite. Overlapping. The voice … Continue reading quick review of junot díaz’ this is how you lose her

last tuesday at the movies

Went to the movies last week. I should’ve been grading or obsessing over the part time instructor evaluations I was supposed to be writing up. But I went to the movies instead. Don’t always spend time during the week taking time to watch movies but I did. And I don’t regret it. I wish I could go to the movies every Tuesday. Anyway D and … Continue reading last tuesday at the movies

stuart dybek’s the coast of chicago

We’re discussing a few stories tomorrow from Stuart Dybek‘s collection The Coast of Chicago. I admire “The Woman Who Fainted” and “Pet Milk” (4:27) and I was happy to find this reading for my Lit 50 students. So important to hear the author’s voice. I was lucky enough to hear him read years back at Oregon State. I remember he mentioned the stories began as … Continue reading stuart dybek’s the coast of chicago

the house of order indie reader review

Grateful for the thoughtful review at Indiereader.com: “…the book is filled with beautiful moments, like shards of broken stained-glass window lying in the dirt. This book will open your eyes to a new way of life and will leave you with haunting images not soon forgotten. A worthy read.” –IndieReader.com Continue reading the house of order indie reader review

teacher’s lounge

I tell my students that Week 4 of the semester is usually where the wheels fall off–for students as well as instructors. This semester is particularly difficult as I try to write, edit and  act as a student again myself. As well as teaching I am refreshing myself in an online instruction course. Something about week 4 that reveals the grind of education. Making time … Continue reading teacher’s lounge

quick review of daniel chacon’s hotel juarez

A few months back I wrote a quick review of Daniel Chacon’s book Unending Rooms. I admire Chacon’s aesthetic and overall writerly choices.  I look forward to picking up his novel and his other work Chicano Chicanery. His work at times is surreal and also thought provoking. I find his work here playful and intelligent. And I’ve been in the habit of reading work that is … Continue reading quick review of daniel chacon’s hotel juarez

quick thought on the man with the golden arm

Finished reading through Algren’s The Man with the Golden Arm and I’ve enjoyed the story of self-destruction. I can see why this book is such a classic. Does feel a bit overwritten at times but Algren’s Chicago is a gritty and dirty place–very naturalistic. I most enjoyed the sweeping third person narration. Continue reading quick thought on the man with the golden arm

a book and a labyrinth

Rereading Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths this morning. And the idea of a chaotic novel or a novel with confounding paths of time consoles me as I’ve been thinking Semi-Orphaned is a mess of vignettes and scene/organization that spirals. Hopeful that I have found a plan for the chaos. “No one realized that the book and the labyrinth were one and the same.” Continue reading a book and a labyrinth

semi-orphaned aug 15 deadline

Sat down today–all day today–working towards an August 15 contest deadline for my Semi-Orphaned manuscript. Here is a quick excerpt: Animales Neto was over on the bed shirtless and crudo, shaking his head at the reality of missing his father’s funeral service, when he raised both arms to smell his pits. He started digging in his jeans for a comb and pushed at his dark … Continue reading semi-orphaned aug 15 deadline

the house of order writeup in the san francisco book review

Here’s a quick excerpt from the writeup in the August San Francisco Book Review: Star Rating: 5 out of 5 “Raw and highly emotional at times, Jaramillo’s stories give a realistic look in to the lives of his characters as he presents short vignettes that hint at a deeper family saga. His style is easy to read and his concise wording retains a surprising amount of detail. … Continue reading the house of order writeup in the san francisco book review

half-page writeup in pueblo chieftain

I’m grateful for the nearly half-page writeup in the hometown newspaper: “Jaramillo is writing about working in Southern Colorado farm fields, driving and drinking beer and smoking pot; visiting family members in the state penitentiary; about tattooed pregnant girls, dirty kids in laundromats and their desperate mothers–and the pain-filled list goes on, back through several decades. What saves these stories is the grace in which … Continue reading half-page writeup in pueblo chieftain

more yale writers’ conference notes

Enjoyed Sergio Troncoso’s fiction workshop the past ten days and wanted to post some of my notes on the rest of the Yale Writer’s Conference. Day One: Keynote speech by author and medical doctor Richard Selzer  asked us to combine our interests and occupations with our love for language. Loved the idea he gave us to avoid timidity in our writing. “Don’t be afraid to tell … Continue reading more yale writers’ conference notes

yale writers’ conference notes

In the next couple of days I want to post more of my notes from the Yale Writers’ Conference. Today though Sergio Troncoso sent his workshop students this great link to Jorge Luis Borges’ lectures on poetry and philosophy: http://www.openculture.com/2012/05/jorge_luis_borges_1967-8_norton_lectures_on_poetry_and_everything_else_literary.html Continue reading yale writers’ conference notes

school’s just about out for the summer

Finishing up a particularly rough semester. Spending the last few days finishing up student publication editing as well as grading portfolios. Still have a few more hours of math and grade finalizing. Always amazed at just how much work we complete at my community college in writing and lit courses. Ready for a trip to NYC and the Latino Book Awards as well as more … Continue reading school’s just about out for the summer

recuerdos-memories: latino experience in the land of lincoln

Lincoln Presidential Library hosting discussion of immigrant experiences, followed by food and music From Swedes in the 1840s to southern African-Americans in the 1940s, newcomers helped strengthen Illinois with fresh ideas and energy. The process continues today with Latino immigrants, who will be the focus of a Cinco de Mayo discussion and celebration April 28 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. The free … Continue reading recuerdos-memories: latino experience in the land of lincoln

rereading mark richard’s strays

This afternoon I’m rereading Mark Richard‘s “Strays” for my Lit 150 class: “Uncle trash rakes everything my brother and I owned into the pillowcases off our bed and says let that be a lesson to me. He is off through the front porch door, leaving us buck-naked at the table, his last words as he goes up the road, shoulder-slinging his loot, Don’t ya’ll burn … Continue reading rereading mark richard’s strays

tom spanbauer and literary minimalism

Preparing for Lit 150 and discussion of Amy Hempel’s stories “The Cemetary Where Al Jolson is Buried” and “The Harvest”. This morning I’m reviewing Tom Spanbauer’s notes on literary minimalism: Notes on Literary minimalism—(exemplified by Mark Richard, Amy Hempel and Chuck Palahniuk) Literary minimalism is characterized by an economy with words and a focus on surface description. Minimalist authors eschew adverbs and prefer allowing context to dictate meaning. Readers … Continue reading tom spanbauer and literary minimalism

afternoon with argument/research papers

Spending time this afternoon with a large stack of composition argument/research papers. I’ve found no way to make the process easier for me other than to organize and seperate out to about ten or twelve papers a night in prep for about ten to twelve conferences the next day. So important for me to comment and also meet individually with each student to discuss. Continue reading afternoon with argument/research papers

i am a visitor in your world documentary

On Tuesday I had the fortune of attending a private screening of the inspirational documentary film I am a Visitor in Your World . The film was about Rebecca Babcock, a young writer and blogger diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 25. The film was a poignant account of her life and struggles and Rebecca’s story was so affecting. I liked the idea that her … Continue reading i am a visitor in your world documentary