Thursday, December 07, 2006

Go check out Ana Castillo’s website at

I first read her work when I was seduced by the title Peel My Love Like an Onion. I mean, has there ever been a better book title? It is not a bad book at all, but even more impacting was her poetry collection I Ask the Impossible. And seeing her read from Watercolor Women and Opaque Men was a treat. (Gracias, niña.)

Her bloga (her term, though I wish it were mine) is always interesting to read, as is her work, but I saw something a touch upsetting this morning. A lot of her early books are going out of print. Now, living in Chicago (as does Castillo a lot of the time), finding her books is no problem. Powell’s usually has a surplus of Loverboys on hand, but to read that this title, as well as the powerful nonfiction work, Massacre of the Dreamers, is soon to be out of circulation ‘round about the Borders and Barnes and Noble way, well it bothers me. They are not my books, and I may have done my part by reading them, but I feel somewhat obligated to buy a copy or two new (I think I bought most of her books used, sorry Ana) so as to fight the good fight. This doesn’t even seem to bother Castillo very much, as she mentions this sad happening in a longer post regarding literacy in general. Still, it bothers me. I’m going to Borders tonight and buying at least one of the vanishing titles. I’ll pay full price, I don’t care. It’s a small effort but the philosophy and symbolism of the action are what counts.

Now, anyone who has listened to me blab on about contemporary literature has probably heard me recommend Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros. I stand by that novel. Good stuff, that. BUT… I can’t say the same for House on Mango Street, which, according to Castillo’s bloga and common knowledge, will never be out of print due to the huge number of high schools (and even colleges, jeesh) that teach that book every damn year. It is not a bad book, from the little of it I read, but it is more of a Hallmark Card version of a novel than I care for. Caramelo is an infinitely better, more sophisticated and ambitious novel. But House on Mango Street will endure because it is an unchallenging read and it is short, which does not intimidate the kiddies. Kind of sad to see the way in which (and this is my opinion, but damn it, it is the correct one) an inferior, slight novel endures in the public consciousness while other (longer, more complex) books are shoved aside. Oh well, go read your 120 pages; not too daunting and just long enough to kill time before bed after watching Grey’s Anatomy. Oh that McDreamy!