Daniel A. Olivas
A literary illumination of the City of Angels
Wanderers and writers, gangbangers and lawyers, dreamers and devils. The King of Lighting Fixtures paints an idiosyncratic but honest portrait of Los Angeles, depicting how the city both entrances and confounds. Each story serves as a reflection of Daniel A. Olivas’s grand City of Angels, a “magical metropolis where dreams come true.” The characters here represent all walks of L.A. life—from Satan’s reluctant Craigslist roommate to a young girl coping with trauma at her brother’s wake—and their tales ebb and flow among various styles, including magical realism, social realism, and speculative fiction. Like a jazz album, they glide and bop, tease and illuminate, sadden and hearten as they navigate effortlessly from meta to fabulist, from flash fiction to longer, more complex narratives.
These are literary sketches of a Los Angeles that will surprise, connect, and disrupt readers wherever they may live.
Daniel A. Olivas is the author of seven books, including The Book of Want: A Novel and Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews. He earned his degree in English literature from Stanford University, and law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1990, Olivas has practiced law with the California Department of Justice. A second-generation Angeleno, he makes his home in Los Angeles with his wife.
Saul Ramirez as told to John Seidlitz
Canter Press – May, 2017[from the publisher]
In April of 2015, a team of 12 middle schoolers—border kids—from South-Central El Paso surprised the country by taking first place in the national chess championships.
The 11, 12 and 13-year-old chess players at El Paso ISD’s Henderson Middle School largely credit their success to one man: Saul Ramirez, a 30-year-old dad and husband who teaches art at Henderson during the day and coaches the chess team after school. The story of Ramirez and his students is chronicled in The Champions’ Game, a testament to the resilience and spirit of children who dare to dream.
Many of the 700-plus students at Henderson Middle School come and go from across the border in Juárez, where they live. A third of the students are English Language Learners, and over 96 percent are from low-income families, with all of the students at the school qualifying for the free lunch program.
For these kids, dreams of beating highly privileged students from “fancy” schools in upper-crust neighborhoods aren’t on the radar. They have bigger issues to deal with in life. Which is why it borders on the miraculous that they choose to voluntarily—even enthusiastically—commit countless hours every week to the practice of a game that they had known virtually nothing about until two years ago when Ramirez started a chess club at Henderson.
Ramirez’s genius is not so much the chess that he teaches (even though he’s a former Texas state chess champion), but in his ability to intertwine life principles with chess rules to expand the minds, the insight and even the future possibilities of the students he teaches. The book’s 14 chapters lay out Ramirez’s rules for life—and chess, introducing concepts like guard your queen, control your center and protect your king.
Ramirez grew up in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio, a neighborhood that might bring to mind Compton, or South Central, or 8 Mile, often noted as the poorest zip code in the United States. Ramirez seems to possess a singular ability to draw out the talents of his students, perhaps because chess is much more than just a game to him. In The Champions’ Game, he writes,
“I want to start a revolution. A revolution of the mind. I want to do what was done for me by [the people] who were always there for me when I was a child, guiding me, teaching me, showing me how to be a man, an artist, a teacher. I want to build children anew, from the mind up. That does not take genius. It takes love.”
Saul Ramirez is the chess coach and art teacher at Henderson Middle School in El Paso, Texas, where he coached his students to win the national chess championships in 2015 and 2016. When he discovered chess as a child, it created a pathway out of misfortune. Ramirez, like his current students, competed and became a champion in various tournaments. Ramirez graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in May 2010 and started teaching at Henderson Middle School in August of that same year, where he continues to create new paths for the dreams of his students. He was recently named 2017 Secondary Teacher of the Year by the El Paso Independent School District. He lives in El Paso with his wife, Edna, and two children, Saul Jr. and Frida.
Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics
Frederick Luis Aldama
University of Arizona Press – October
[from the Publisher]
Toward a history and theory of Latinx heroes and their stories
Whether good or evil, beautiful or ugly, smart or downright silly, able-bodied or differently abled, gay or straight, male or female, young or old, Latinx superheroes in mainstream comic book stories are few and far between. It is as if finding the Latinx presence in the DC and Marvel worlds requires activation of superheroic powers.
Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics blasts open barriers with a swift kick. It explores deeply and systematically the storyworld spaces inhabited by brown superheroes in mainstream comic book storyworlds: print comic books, animation, TV, and film. It makes visible and lets loose the otherwise occluded and shackled. Leaving nothing to chance, it sheds light on how creators (authors, artists, animators, and directors) make storyworlds that feature Latinos/as, distinguishing between those that we can and should evaluate as well done and those we can and should evaluate as not well done.
The foremost expert on Latinx comics, Frederick Luis Aldama guides us through the full archive of all the Latinx superheros in comics since the 1940s. Aldama takes us where the superheroes live—the barrios, the hospitals, the school rooms, the farm fields—and he not only shows us a view to the Latinx content, sometimes deeply embedded, but also provokes critical inquiry into the way storytelling formats distill and reconstruct real Latinos/as.
Thoroughly entertaining but seriously undertaken, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics allows us to truly see how superhero comic book storyworlds are willfully created in ways that make new our perception, thoughts, and feelings.
Frederick Luis Aldama is the Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of English and University Distinguished Scholar at the Ohio State University. An expert on Latinx popular culture, Aldama is the author, co-author, and editor of twenty-nine books, including Long Stories Cut Short: Fictions from the Borderlands, Your Brain on Latino Comics: From Gus Arriola to Los Bros Hernandez, and The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez.
Chicano Popular Culture, Second Edition: Que Hable el Pueblo
Charles M. Tatum
University of Arizona Press – September
Updated and expanded to offer critical understandings relevant to today’s students
Since 2001, Charles M. Tatum’s Chicano Popular Culture has offered a window into popular culture among Americans of Mexican descent. Chicano Popular Culture, Second Edition provides a fascinating, timely, and accessible introduction to Chicano cultural expression and representation.
New sections discuss music, with an emphasis on hip-hop and rap; cinema and filmmakers; media, including the contributions of Jorge Ramos and María Hinojosa; and celebrations and other popular traditions, including quinceañeras, cincuentañeras, and César Chávez Day.
In addition, Tatum has updated and expanded each chapter, with significant revisions in the following areas:
• “Suggested Readings” for each chapter
• Chicanas in the Chicano Movement and Chicanos since the Chicano Movement
• Popular literature, including new material on Denise Chávez, Luis J. Rodríguez, Alfredo Vea, Luis Alberto Urrea, Richard Rodríguez, and Juan Felipe Herrera
• Theoretical approaches to popular culture, including the perspectives of Norma Cantú, Alicia Gaspar de Alba, Pancho McFarland, Michelle Habell-Pallán, and Víctor Sorell
Featuring clear examples, an engaging writing style, and helpful discussion questions, Chicano Popular Culture, Second Edition invites readers to discover and enjoy Mexican American popular culture.
Charles M. Tatum is a dean emeritus of the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona. He is the author or editor of many books, including Lowriders in Chicano Culture: From Low to Slow to Show and Chicano and Chicana Literature: Otra voz del pueblo.