Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Oscar loved comics, I'm sure he would have made it out to Table Con

Have you started reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, its our current bookclub pick? Have you discovered Oscar and his obsession for fantasy and sci-fi. The narrator describes him as the kind of kid, "...who loved comic books...knew more about the Marvel Universe than Stan Lee."

I'm a relative newbie to comics, well at least to the American comic book world. When I was a kid, a cousin from Mexico introduced me to Kaliman. A couple of years ago when my friend Liza was developing a character, for a Latina super hero in Teatro Luna's production of Lunaticas, she walked into Tianguis with a stack of comic books--they were a part of her research. I picked up a copy of Supergirl and was mesmerized. "Did you know Supergirl was Superman's cousin? That she killed her mother?" I paused to ask, it had elements of a good telenovela, no one had ever clued me in.

It was serendipity that just as I was reading about Oscar's adventures I came across, The Unbelieveable Laundry Detergent Man by Jose "Nino" Mesarina. Its a comic book and its hero is a boy as awkward as Oscar who gains special powers after being forced to drink a very potent laundry detergent.

Nino is currently busy with an event he has masterminded, and that he describes as a comic book convention with a twist--one table will feature an artist alley, vendors, guest speakers, original artwork, comic books, and even a gamers area.

Nino tells me, "Table con was an idea...since high school...It's the only Latino run comic book convention in Chicago."

Table Con takes place this weekend. Its free admission and held at Third Coast Comics, 6234 N. Broadway. You can get details at the myspace page for Table Con. I'll be swinging by to check out the comics and discover more about Latinos working in the comic book industry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First 50 pages and your feedback.

Next week, we will be ready to start discussing the first fifty pages, that is the intro and chapter one, of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Cynthia and I worked on a tentative timeline together that would call for reading an average of 56 pages per week. Feedback on this reading load would be helpful, check out our poll on the top right hand side of this blog page and click on the answer that fits your profile best. None quite describe you or you want to elaborate with a comment or send us a message to info (at) tianguis (dot) biz.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What did she say?

Below I've listed praise Stephanie's Elizondo Griest has garnered for her third book, Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlands. She's gotten some exciting reviews from some of our favorite Latino authors, including Sandra Cisneros and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Read an excerpt of Stephanie's book here, and see why Luis Urrea said, 'No, you can't say that.' I am glad she did.

Make sure to join us for the reading and booksigning on Friday, Feb. 6th, 2009 @ 7 p.m. Event details here.

"Stephanie Elizondo Griest dances where others fear to tread. There were several places in this book where I said, 'No, you can't say that.' I am glad she did."
-- Luis Alberto Urrea, bestselling author of The Devil's Highway

"This is a travel journal for the new millennium, a biracial woman searching for herself among the complexities of the borderlands."
-- Sandra Cisneros, bestselling author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo

"I can't think of anyone who does a better job of capturing the people and places that inhabit the soul of a country. She grants us access into the hidden corners of a Mexico we've only heard about, with her own brand of humor, spot-on wisdom, and heart."
-- Michelle Herrera Mulligan, editor of Juicy Mangos and Border-Line Personalities

"A revealing exposé of one woman's struggle to live between two cultures and two worlds, and yet not fully belong to either."
-- Teresa Rodriguez, author of The Daughters of Juárez

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Memoir Writing Workshop w/ Ana Castillo

"We’ll talk, we’ll laugh, we’ll cry. We’ll vent. We’ll write from our hearts and our minds. And then, we’ll learn to get rid of all the sentimentality and leave on the page what is important for the reader to know about your memoir."
-- A.C.

Ana Castillo is coming to Chicago on Friday, February 13th, 2009 and is offering a one-day Memoir Writing Workshop. For details and guidelines visit her website.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Acuerdos for the virtual bookclub (guidelines)

In our quest to design one of the best experiences for the Tianguis Virtual Bookclub I've put together some guidelines that I use in my work as an assistant professor and consultant. When I use the Acuerdos (Agreements) in my work, I have found them to create magnificent experiences. They are also incredibly helpful when creating critical, absolutely thrilling dialogue!

The Acuerdos we will use are from "Los Cuatro Acuerdos (The Four Agreements)" by Don Miguel Ruiz. They are 4 agreements that are simple yet powerful.

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Do your best.

3. Don't take it personal:
-Be responsible for your own communication. (my elaboration)
4. Don't make assumptions:
-Do assume good faith from everyone! (my elaboration)


What are they?

*They are system for integrity and R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
a system of right and wrong.

How do we create them?
*We will get to know them as we use them.
*Pick the "one your with" to focus on for each discussion.

How will they really be effective?
*Grace of forgiveness...we are all learning how to make it a great literary experience.
*At times I will include quotes from inspirational cards Don Miguel has produced.

Let's get this party started! Literary love is in the house! (Yes I'm a Chicago 80's Baby :)

AWP events this February

Below is the scoop for AWP & related events that I will be attending and participating in this February. I'll be part of a panel at the AWP conference about building literary communities in Chicago. You can also come by the book table and say hello at the fourth annual Con Tinta Celebration, and I'm honored for the opportunity to read with some amazing fellow poets at Palabra Pura's One Poem Festival.

February 12, 2009 @ 1:30 p.m.
Building, Breaking, Rebuilding: Six Chicago Literary Landscapers
(Ellen Placey Wadey, Erin Teegarden, Krista Franklin, Joel Craig, Jennifer Karmin, Irasema Gonzalez) We are the bold sluggers who run Chicago's independent reading series. Set vividly against the established grid, we build literary communities in neighborhoods from the ground up. How are we thriving in the face of our challenges? Less like a panel and more like a virtual show-and-tell, organizers from a diverse group of popular, D-I-Y reading serieses discuss building, breaking from, and rebuilding Chicago's literary landscape.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 @ 6 p.m.
Con Tinta Celebration

An evening to celebrate the Chicano/Latino literary community. This year's Con Tinta Award recipient is Carlos Cortez, artist, poet, printmaker, photographer, songwriter and lifelong political activist. Special recognition will also be made to Patti Hartmann, editor of Camino del Sol Series at the University of Arizona Press. Literary tributes to Carlos Cortez will be made by Carlos Cumpian, Lisa Alvarado, and Ray Gonzalez. Held at COCO Restaurant, 2723 W. Divison, Chicago, IL. Free. Open buffet and cash bar.

Friday, February 13, 2009, 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Palabra Pura, Special Edition: One Poem Festival
Following up on the multi-voiced reading hosted by ACENTOS in NYC last year during AWP, the Guild Complex, Letras Latinas, and Poetry Magazine will be hosting a "One Poem Festival" featuring an ample roster of Latino and Latina poets from Chicago and out of town, including: Lisa Alvarado, Carlos Cumpian, Silvia Curbelo, Gina Franco, Gabe Gomez, Irasema Gonzalez, Maurice Kilwein Guevara, Gabriela Jauregui, Olivia Maciel, Carl Marcum, Valerie Martínez, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Achy Obejas, Daniel A. Olivas, Johanny Vasquez Paz, Paul Martinez Pompa, Linda Rodríguez, Jacob Saenz, Jorge Sánchez, Juan Manuel Sanchez Rich Villar. Held at Jazz Showcase, 47 W. Polk St. Chicago, IL.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reading: Mexican Enough by Stephanie Elizondo Griest

We know its two weeks away, but we just finalized the date and venue for this reading and booksigning. Save the date and come out to join us.

Friday, February 6, 2009 @ 7 p.m.
Held @ Radio Arte, 1401 W. 18th St.
(Radio Arte is in Pilsen. A few blocks East of the CTA pink line stop and there is meter parking nearby.)
Free. Copies of Stephanie's books for sale.

Washington Square Press, August 2008
As a biracial American, Stephanie Elizondo Griest has long struggled with her cultural identity, wondering if she is “Latina enough” to pursue race-based scholarships and the like. In 2005, she ventured to her mother’s native Mexico to do a little root-searching and improve her “Tarzan Lite” Spanish. She stumbled upon a burgeoning social movement that shook parts of the nation to its core. MEXICAN ENOUGH chronicles her journey, from the narco-infested border town of Nuevo Laredo to the highlands of Chiapas. She investigates the murder of a prominent gay activist, sneaks into prison to meet with resistance fighters, rallies with rebels in Oaxaca, and interviews scores of migrant workers and the families they were forced to leave behind. Travel companions include a Polish thief, a Border Patrol agent, and a Dominatrix. Part memoir, part journalistic reportage, MEXICAN ENOUGH illuminates how we cast off our identity in our youth, only to strive to find it again as adults—and the lessons to be learned along the way.

Stephanie Elizondo Griest has mingled with the Russian Mafiya, polished Chinese propaganda, and belly danced with Cuban rumba queens. These adventures inspired her award-winning memoir AROUND THE BLOC: MY LIFE IN MOSCOW, BEIJING, AND HAVANA (Villard/Random House, 2004) and guidebook 100 PLACES EVERY WOMAN SHOULD GO (Travelers’ Tales, 2007). She has explored five continents and once drove 45,000 miles across America in a Honda Hatchback named Bertha. A 2005-2006 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University, she recently won the Richard J. Margolis Award for Social Justice Reporting. Visit her website at

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

UPDATE: Its back!

If you are having trouble logging into the Tianguis website this morning, we are having difficulty with our server. The problem is being addressed and we should be back up shortly.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The virtual book club picks its first read of 2009

Cynthia and I took suggestions and we met last week to discuss the title recommendations. We decided on the book that seems to be on every one's mind (including my own) and that is Junot Diaz' pulitzer prize winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Over the next several weeks we will be posting book club questions and leading discussions through posts on the blog--we encourage your participation via the comment feature.

For now go get your copy of the book. If you already own it/read it, I encourage you to revisit it and log on for the book club discussions. Look for the first book club questions to be posted next Monday (1/19/09).

book synopsis
Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.

"An extraordinarily vibrant book that's fueled by adrenaline-powered prose...[Junot Diaz has] written a book that decisively establishes him as one of contemporary fiction's most distinctive and irresistible new voices." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Panoramic and yet achingly personal. It's impossible to categorize, which is a good thing. Diaz's novel is a hell of a book. It doesn't care about categories." --Los Angeles Times

"Superb, deliciously casual and vibrant, shot through with wit and insight. The great achievement of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is Diaz's ability to balance an intimate, multigenerational story of family tragedy...The past and the present remain equally in focus, equally immediate, and Diaz's acrobatic prose toggles artfully between realities, keeping us entralled with all."

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, new path for Tianguis

photo credit:
I design my own path by Cynthia Nambo

Feliz Año y Dia de los Reyes!

I hope you spent the holidays in good company. Aside from being at the store and helping customers pick out Christmas gifts, I made sure to schedule time to spend with my own family. Knowing that I was going to have to move did keep me too busy and I confess that it took a hot minute to get into the Christmas spirit. It finally sunk in when I was making tamales with my mother and getting to hang out with my precious loved ones was probably the best gift.
I know I did end 2008 on a bittersweet note, I always hate sharing bad news. I have received beautiful handwritten letters via snail mail, encouraging phone calls and email messages rooting me forward. Some beautiful customers and neighbors even made it a point to come by and say goodbye personally.

All that energy and hope, I gotta tell you that I am excited about the possibilities that 2009 will bring. I am brimming with ideas and can't wait to share them with you and have you along for the ride . It will be a time of transition and evolution for Tianguis--our biggest change will be going from a brick-and-mortar to an online business. Please be patient with us, our website and blog might look a little rough in the next few weeks but we ask that you please pardon the dust while we make our virtual renovations.

We do want to remind you to save-the-date and join us on Monday, January 19, 2009 @ 7 p.m. for the first Proyecto Latina of 2009--we will be celebrating our third anniversary and the launch of a fourth year with some special treats. Details coming soon.

Also, we invite you to join the discussion on the Tianguis Bookclub that is going on here, we already have a few book recommendations but we would love to have more before finalizing down to our first book of the year.