Happy Happy Joy Joy!

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I just learned that my collection of personal essays & creative nonfiction, ISLAND OF BONES, has received its first greenlight at a lovely university press:  the editor loves it! 

(May we all just pause for a moment to dwell on how blissful the words "I love the collection" feel?  Aaah.  There, now.) 

The manuscript still has to be vetted by outside readers, and then voted on by the press's publication board, so it's not a sure thing.  But the editor is on its side, and that's a great start.  Hurray!

Now, I don't know if I've been infected by working on a literary thriller or what, but to me, ISLAND OF BONES would sound a little creepy if I didn't know the reference.  (You old-school conchs are already smiling.)  So let me just tell you that Cayo Hueso, literally "bone key" or island of bones, is what the Spanish-speaking folks called Key West before English speakers got there and thought Hueso sounded like West-o, and presto:  a name, mangled.  Lost in translation.  Key West is where my grandparents and great-grandparents lived, where my dad was born and raised, and where we traveled every year to stay with family, fish off the piers with the cousins, and inhale way too much of my grandmother's black beans, fried sweet plantains, and roast pork. 

Key West was the island, the rock, of my highly peripatetic childhood, the place we could always go home to.  Now only one person in my family--my aunt, a high school librarian--lives there; the rest have been squeezed out over the decades by skyrocketing housing costs as the island became not a home for ordinary working people but a resort for the wealthy.  Even my aunt is planning to leave as soon as she can afford to retire.

"Island of Bones" is the title of an essay I wrote that will appear in The Other Latino, an edited collection by a bunch of different writers that's forthcoming from University of Arizona Press sometime--2010, I think.  I thought it made a good title for my own collection, which is really personal and intimate and sort of picks up where The Truth Book left off.  Most of the pieces, though, aren't nearly as harrowing as the book.  It's about being a writer, a mother, a daughter, a sister, about being an academic, an intellectual with working-class roots--about how to configure an identity with complicated ethnic, class, religious, and gender elements, about dealing with the long-term psychological impact of violence.  Some of the pieces are forthcoming in journals and anthologies, but this collection will put them all together in one handy book (and I hope it comes out in straight-to-paperback form).

Anyway, I'm very excited about the fact that an editor likes it, and I hope it keeps moving forward through the editorial process.   Wish me luck, people!


Jezebella said:

Good news! Good luck! You rock, I'm so proud of you, and I can't wait to buy all of your forthcoming books and distribute them to friends and family far & wide.


October 7, 2009 8:47 PM

Faye said:

This is fantastic news! Congratulations! Fingers very crossed for you. I can't think of many things I'd rather read than a collection of your essays. They sound thought-provoking and absorbing just from your description here. Let's hope the outside readers and publication board have the same smart eye and good taste as this editor.

October 7, 2009 11:52 PM

fayepoet said:

Such wonderful news! You are an inspiration in your persistence and dedication to the voices that inform your literary efforts. I'm rooting for the go ahead with publication— straight to one handy book in paperback and your wishes fulfilled. Belated happy birthday!

October 10, 2009 2:45 AM

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