July 2011 Teleconference
The Farthest Home is in an Empire of Fire:
A Tejano Elegy
by John Phillip Santos
A family's epic origins in the hinterlands of Mexico that became Texas-and earlier, in Iberia
In his acclaimed 1999 memoir Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation, John Phillip Santos told the story of one Mexican family—his father's—set within the larger story of Mexico itself. In this beautifully written new book, he tells of how another family—this time, his mother's—erased and forgot over time their ancient origins in Spain.
Every family has a forgotten tale of where it came from. Who is driven to tell it and why? Weaving together a highly original mix of autobiography, conquest history, elegy, travel, family remembrance, and time travelling narration, Santos offers an unforgettable testimony to this calling and describes a lifelong quest to find the missing chronicle of his mother's family, one that takes him to various locations in South Texas and Mexico, to New York City, to Spain, and ultimately to the Middle East. Blending genres brilliantly, Santos raises profound questions about whether we can ever find our true homeland and what we can learn from our treasured, shared cultural legacies.
About the Author
John Phillip Santos, born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, is the first Mexican American Rhodes Scholar whose awards include the Academy of American Poets' Prize at Notre Dame and the Oxford Prize for fiction. His articles on Latino culture have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and the San Antonio Express-News. Writer and producer of more than forty television documentaries for CBS-TV and PBS-TV—two of them Emmy nominees—he lives in San Antonio, Texas.
King of The Chicanos
by Manuel Ramos
About the Book
Mystery novelist Manuel Ramos examines the origins of the Chicano movement, then follows several characters through both the mayhem and hope of those years. Did the movement implode? Was it compromised? Those who made so much political progress for us suffered a great deal to do so.
About the Author
Manuel Ramos is the author of numerous crime fiction novels, including The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz (1993), Blues for the Buffalo (1993), The Ballad of Gato Guerrero (1994), The Last Client of Luis Móntez (1996), Moony's Road to Hell (2002), and Brown–On–Brown (2003). Most of these novels feature Ramos' popular Chicano detective, Luis Móntez, and several have garnered critical and popular recognition such as the Colorado Book Award and the Chicano/Latino Literary Award (University of California at Irvine), as well as an Edgar nomination from the Mystery Writers of America.
Ramos was born in Florence, Colorado. His grandfathers included a coal miner and a veteran of Pancho Villa's army. His father, a construction worker, and his mother raised Manuel to appreciate education and he graduated from Colorado State University, with honor, in 1970, and received his law degree from the University of Colorado in 1973.
After a few years in private practice, Ramos accepted a staff attorney position with the Denver legal aid program, and the bulk of his legal career has consisted of providing legal assistance to the indigent. Today, he is the Director of Advocacy for Colorado Legal Services, the statewide legal aid program. As Director of Advocacy he is responsible for staff training, backup and support, overall direction for the agency's litigation, and resolution of issues involving professional ethics. He has served on numerous boards, task forces, and court committees, and been the recipient of several awards and other recognition for his legal work as well as his writing. Ramos also has taught Chicano literature courses at Metropolitan State College of Denver.
A Book of Short Stories
by Chuy Ramirez
About the Book
Strawberry Fields follows Joaquin, the main character and his migrant family through a worthwhile journey. The reader discovers the Joaquin's complex relationship with his father. The characters are crafted in detail amidst the backdrop of colorful settings through the chapters. The reader uncovers many underlying themes: the conflict between being Mexican and American, and a poignant sub-theme: a rift between a father's ideological Mexico and a son's inability to comprehend this. Readers will also identify with the depiction of the main character's mother. Her perseverance and strength is a focus and her sacrifices thwart Joaquin to relentless ambition through his life from meager beginnings. A young girl's death from his past sends Joaquin through a mental and physical journey. Overall, it is a thought-provoking story spanning three generations and what was endured during a period of change in America. Ramirez develops a piece of literature filled with intrigue, history, and compassion; more importantly Strawberry Fields illustrates the complicated threads that compose every family.
About the Author
Chuy Ramirez grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, attended Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas and is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He practices law in McAllen and Strawberry Fields is his first fictional work.
Ramirez lives in San Juan, Texas with his wife of thirty eight years, Aida, who is a retired public school teacher. He has two children: Jesus Ramirez and Mirta Espinola. He is the proud grandfather of four: Chuy Ramirez III, Carla Ramirez, Victoria Ramirez, and Isaiah Matthew Ramirez.