Here Comes the Flood


In a great and sorrowful essay called "Digging," Andre Dubus says: "When I was a boy, I could not tell a man what I felt, if I believed what I felt was unmanly." That hit me between the eyes, and I thought, Dubus might be talking abut Lafayette Louisiana, but he could have been talking about Chicano Logan Heights. Perhaps it hit me hard this week because I just got home from beloved Lafayette, and Baton Rouge, and NOLA. Used to live there, realizing the mysterious interface between Cajun and Mexicano experience. Unmanly! I grew up amidst casual racism and sexism, cheerful homophobia, easy violence and single-minded sexual hunger. I was fortunate, however, to have a dad who was haunted by things he would not express, and who seemed to find writing and art to be manly. Unlike many of the dads surrounding us. I have been trying to define "man," I think, ever since. Writing has been the path for me, no question. How ironic that I have become known as the guy who writes about women. What would Dad make of that? He'd want to know where all the naked stewardesses and naughty nurses were in my books. Sorry, Dad. It took my Chiricahua Apache medicine-man teacher to tell me, "Men are also women." That might not have gone down well in Tijuana or Barrio Logan. "I am woman," he said, looking like a very handsome manly man. Ah, Louisiana. Cinderella and I were so happy to be back there again. In New Orleans, we stayed in the heart of the French Quarter, on St Ann Street. We ate good stuff, man--she asked me if I was planning to eat my weight in shrimp po' boys. I had a mouthful of shrimp po' boy at the moment and said, "Mrffl frrfl." Crystal hot sauce, y'all. I hate to be reductionist, but the travel report could consist of this: catfish, shrimp, boudin, chicory coffee, duck, beignets. I did a reading at the wonderful Maple Street Books. Veronica is our buddy there, and she got a nice little crowd for me--not bad, in a city where I am not well-known. We rented a Mustang, by the way, and Dad was happy and manly when that deep rumble burped out of the tailpipes. We rumbled onto I-10 and made our muscular and intimidating way west, all through the holy Atchafalaya Basin. Toward Lafayette. Rolled on up to Church Point, where our dear friends Darrell and Karen Bourque live. Perhaps it should have a cap: they Live. Live in the country, on a grand family property nursed into healthy forest and garden and bamboo groves. Surrounded by art and good books and stained glass and flowers and poetry. It was a special return for us, because in the back house we discovered, some twelve years ago, that Cinderella was pregnant with Chayo. My thrill of the trip: the armadillo raiding their garden stopped and sniffed my shoe. YES! I am seven years old. The Louisiana Book Festival was, um, not what you'd call an Urrea event. I was firmly in the, "Oh, and you are....?" category. The, "Oh, how nice for you...." fold. Ha. But we saw friends (Ken Wheaton, Clare Martrin, Lana Wiggins!) and ate some gumbo that made me pay dearly in a few hours and got to drive around some more in the Mustang. Now, we're back--I'm trying to finish my semester. It has been hard. Juggling all this stuff, though I'm doing it manfully. And we're planning to coming QUEEN OF AMERICA book tour. OMG, as my kids might say. It's a full schedule. If you look at the Calendar here on the website, you'll see if I'm coming to your town or not. The official tour is in two parts, before and after Christmas. Then there's all the other stuff I'm doing which will transform, in the light of the Queen, into unofficial book tour. I'll be on the road through the summer. Gasp. I thought I was done! Chances are, I will be near you sometime in 2011/2012. I look forward to it. In fact, my first hardcovers are supposed to arrive today. We'll put up a picture of the books as soon as we open the package. Sorry I have been lax in keeping up on the blog, but I try to fire off Facebook entries as I go. This weekend, we will be putting some enw artworks up for the Sketchbook. Check 'em out. Oh! And our techno-nauts are preparing the Teresita section of the website for you. All kinds of amazing new stuff for you to coincide with the Queen's arrival. And watch for my new column in Orion Magazine--the audio will eb available in a few days. See you soon, my friends.

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Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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