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Afternoon of Readings in Amsterdam

Shanghai Noir

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle: publication date 01.04.2017

This has been a week of literary events. It started with Jennifer Egan reading at the John Adams Institute from her latest novel Manhattan Beach. Egan is an eloquent speaker on craft. She tries to create in the dim light between dreaming and waking. She writes by hand on yellow legal pads because her handwriting is illegible, more interested in hurtling into the unknown than to fiddle with what's already on the page. Egan is looking to plumb her subconscious in search of things that surprise.

It's surprising to me how much pleasure I felt to hold in my hand a copy of The Line Becomes A River. The author is Francisco Cantú, writing about his time with the US Border Patrol, and now a literary rock star. But I know him as Paco, from when he was a member of my critique group, the Pub Scrawlers.

Back then, Paco was just starting to write vignettes based on the journal he kept as a border patrolman, the same journal that turned into fodder for his debut memoir. Out just last month, The Line Becomes a River has been racking up some pretty amazing reviews. To quote just one from Esquire:

“a must-read for anyone who thinks ‘build a wall’ is the answer to anything’”.

Pretty heady stuff though it hasn't all been coming up roses for Paco. With a book this timely, he's going to encounter detractors. In Austin, immigration activists disrupted his book tour to call him a traitor, someone who romanticizes life at the border for his own profit. That's rough.

Luckily, there were no protesters at my reading last Sunday (pictured above) though there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the ramp-up to that event. To be honest, it pissed me off and then it made me think. This week's blog post is what came of that process: Bubble Life.

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