Archive for July, 2007
So, I often get the question “How’s the book going?” My brother who has purchased seven copies of Hijas especially likes to call me with this question. And I always answer with a “I don’t really know.” I mean, I know that my events are going between fine and great. I know that I’ve sold out of books completely at some of my signings, and I know that every now and again my Amazon.com rank number dips down to the lower side of four digits and that these are all good signs. But that is all I know. Because here is how the book business works (or, at least, here is how I THINK the book business works; I really know nothing): twice a year, a publishing company really totals the numbers of what has been sold. And sold means that you or your Great Aunt Maria or my brother Bert (who I call My Tito) marched that book up to the cash register, shelled out your hard-earned cash, and went home with a bright and shiny copy of Hijas (if you have done this, I thank you). So, twice a year a publishing company figures out what has sold, tallies how much that means you have earned, and then sends you a check (or doesn’t, if you haven’t earned out your advance). That means that 2x a year, a writer gets accurate feedback on how their baby (I mean book) is doing out there in the universe. So what’s a writer to do on the other 362 days of the year? (more…)
So this week, you can catch me on the radio and in bookstores in Atlanta, Georgia or South Charlotte. If you are in Atlanta, check out The Hub on WRAS, 88.5 FM (Georgia State University’s radio station) Wednesday between 3 – 4 pm for an interview about Hijas. Come out to Charis Books on Euclid Avenue on Thursday night at 7:30 PM for a reading and a signing. On Friday, I’ll be at the Borders in Buckhead for a 7:30 PM reading and signing. I’ll zip out of Atlanta that night to make it back to North Carolina to participate in a women’s health fair at the Borders Stonecrest location from 1 pm to 3 pm on Saturday, August 4th. I look forward to seeing you!
What does it mean to be beautiful in America? The answer to this question brings up all kinds of clichés. Reality shows, magazines, sitcoms, movies, and music videos propagate a certain image—tall, thin, and blond—that’s unattainable for most women. But pop culture isn’t the only place where beauty matters. Female news anchors, executives, and CEOs, even high-power board members, find that beauty plays a role in breaking through the glass ceiling. Beauty is so valued, it’s become a commodity.
The question that comes up for me when I think about the power beauty has over our lives and experiences is this: What happens to girls whose self-image is shaped by other people’s beauty standards, and whose own features aren’t reflected back to them in the everyday images the media promotes… (more…)
I am home from the beach with a burnt scalp (I generously applied sunscreen every day and then end up burning my scalp. Aye.) and some books and magazines crossed off my To Read List. Coincidentally, two of the books that I read were memoirs about homeless parents. In Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Nick Flynn—who worked in a homeless shelter– comes face to face with his father’s homelessness, life, and demons. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls looks at the powerful yet heartbreaking story of Walls’ family as her parents collide into homelessness and the children try to save themselves and each other. I’ll hit the beach again in August for another short vacation and then a couple days at surf camp (for an article I am writing) so I am looking for reading suggestions for the trip. What’s the best book you have read in the last year or two? And, because you might be looking for some suggestions, too, here are a few books I have read in the last year that might interest you: Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Dry by Augusten Burroughs, and The Glass Castle.
What I love about being Latina: Our commitment to family and our willingness to laugh easily and often.
What I love about being Americana: The opportunities I have as a woman in this country, rock n’ roll, and FREEDOM.
If you are interested in a blog that keeps up with the latest news “in the Hispanic Book World”, check out the Hispanic Book Journal. I just found out that they did a review of Hijas and saw several interesting books while I was on the site.
I am headed to the beach tomorrow (today), and while I am mentally ready; I am nowhere near ready ready. I have this funny tendency (that I get from my Mamacita– here’s a photo of Mamacita as a ‘shout out’ even though she’s in Puerto Rico right now and is more apt to be spending her time al fresco on a porch than in front of someone’s computer seeing that I gave her a shout out. I bring her up here because I always tease her for walking through the entire house the night before she leaves for a trip and frantically cleaning every surface when she hasn’t even begun to think about what she is putting in her suitcase) before I go on a trip to get hyper-productive, but it is really just a form of procrastination. And so here is how today’s productive procrastination went down: I went and bought one of my niece’s Baptism gift (she is not being baptized until September, mind you, but I already have at least four gifts for the occassion) and then proceeded to buy her a Christmas present (or two), a birthday present (for May 2008) and another ‘just because’ present since it will soon be fall. A girl’s got to have something new for fall. Even if she is only three months. I then had to even out the spoiling so I promptly bought my girl’s big brother (my little doppelganger, I like to think, although it is becoming harder and harder for me to convince people of this when his hair keeps getting lighter) some things for his first venture into Mother’s Morning Out this fall. I have fairly reasonable sensibilities and tend to space out their gifts, make sure everything I buy is practical and not in some way duplicated, check things out with my sister first, etc, but even I had to call her when I left the store to say, “I have officially gone too far.” Looking at my watch, I saw that my planned forty minute foray had promptly turned into two and a half hours lost somewhere between Barnes and Noble (how could I have forgotten about the Harry Potter madness?) and Gymboree (and the Gelato place).
What I love about being Latina: The richness of my language, my culture and the beautiful diversity we have in our people.What I love about being Americana: Having another beautiful culture and language and sharing this with so many people from all over the world. America is a pot of gold in diversity and we are a significant part of this pot.
My biggest challenge in growing up Latina in America: Accepting that discrimination due to me being a Latina women was caused by the ignorance of others and not by my being who I was. (more…)
Pasckie Pascua recently posted a review of Hijas Americanas on her web-site, a review that ran in The Indie of Asheville, a monthly “open mic” magazine that she publishes and edits. Here’s an excerpt:
Take this example (from the book)– while 81.4 percent of Latina women are satisfied with their inherent beauty, only 39.1 percent are satisfied with their weight, and the belief that attractive women are more valued in society is staggering (86.8 percent). This could be a contradiction but on closer scrutiny, it is not. This emphasizes the “foreign woman’s” struggle to belong and yet still excise self-respect. Hence, the snippets of stories that Molinary compiled become empowering and illuminating – a deeper understanding of the sensibilities and sensitivities of a woman seeking her valued and esteemed place in a dominant culture that is almost always moved by face-value consumerism, self-consciousness, and double standard.
The popular TV series “Ugly Betty” partly responds to Molinary’s premise: “We are Latina and we are Americans.” The series—based on the Colombian telenovela “Betty la fea” by Fernando Gaitán—follows the life of Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), and her job at popular fashion magazine. Betty’s at times tragic and comical, but mostly heartwarming attempts to fit into the world of high fashion – as ushered and dictated by “Western” conventions – articulate what Molinary espouses towards the end of her book: “Raise your voice and demand an end to a narrow beauty mystique. No matter where you have been on the journey to selfhood, start each day with the intention of championing yourself and others. It is never too late to claim yourself. The revolution—for all of us, of any upbringing—is about to crescendo.”
“Hijas Americanas” is not a statement on womanhood or a political battlecry for women empowerment. It simply presents the Latina – or the foreign woman as she wades along two crisscrossing cultural rivers – bare-bones sincere, achingly honest, but silently powerful. By presenting the Latina as such, Molinary lets out an authentic voice that speaks from the inside and out – which, in turn, makes the book a significant work given current realities.
So I continue to get great questions at readings and signings and over e-mails, and I have to admit that those discussions are my favorite part of the promotion process. And, well, when something is your favorite, you want to keep doing it. So, I want to offer you (and me) the opportunity to talk about the book live. If you have a book club that is willing to read Hijas Americanas as one of their books and want to schedule a phone chat with me, just shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and put Hijas Americanas Author Chat in the subject line. Let me know what you are thinking, and I’ll do everything within my power to make it happen. We can talk about the book, the issues it explores, about writing in general, our favorite books, etc. Looking forward to it!