LOCATION: CHANGING HANDS TEMPE
The award-winning cultural activist hosts a celebratory fiesta for her new novel — part of the Chicano/Chicana Vision of the Americas series — a mystery and love story set in Comézon, a New Mexico border town.
Comézon: It's more than an itch. It's a long-standing desire that will never be fulfilled. And, in this novel by award-winning author Denise Chavez, it is also a border town in New Mexico whose denizens' longings are as powerful as they are, all too often, impossible. But in the feverish dance of life that seizes Comézon during its two annual fiestas, all things seem possible. As the townspeople revel in the freedom of the fiestas, their stories unfold in all manner of mystery, drama, and comic charm. In the middle of it all is Arnulfo P. Olivarez, master of ceremonies and befuddled patriarch of a less-than-tractable family. At the moment, he is calculating his chances of becoming mayor, as well as pondering the fate of his beautiful disabled daughter, Juliana. Arnulfo's daughters are the Fiesta Queen, Lucinda, a lovely, lost and wild girl, and Juliana, her half sister, wheelchair-bound but with soaring dreams of love for the local priest, El Padre Manolito. Their mother, the saintly Dona Emilia, attends to all her children, including Arnulfo, with grace. Lucinda's unsuitable suitor, Ruley Terrazas, a tall, bumpy-skinned boy, is not to be trusted, nor is his father, Cuco "Matamosca" Terrazas, the local chief of police. And Rey Suarez, owner of the Mil Recuerdos Lounge, is haunted by his former incarnation as an immigration officer, an expert in spotting fake IDs. Between New Mexico and Mexico, between Cinco de Mayo and the 16th of September, between the dreams and the realities of Comézon's characters, something has to give. Each character is attempting to find love in this feverish fiesta called Life. And in the deft hands of Denise Chavez this tragicomic novel gives unerringly: pleasure, surprise, and the satisfaction of a tale well told.
Aristeo Brito, author of the seminal Chicano classic, The Devil in Texas, will be present to sing classic Mexican songs, play his guitar prior to the reading, and sign The Devil in Texas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR DENISE CHÁVEZ is a performance writer, novelist, playwright, teacher and cultural activist based in Las Cruces, New Mexico. A true child of La Frontera, Chávez is the author of A Taco Testimony, Loving Pedro Infante, Face of An Angel, The last of the menu girls, and La Mujer Que Sabía El Idioma de Los Animales/The Woman Who Knew the Language of the Animals. She is currently working on several collections of stories as well as doing research for a family memoir. Chávez is the director of The Border Book Festival, a major national and regional book festival based at Casa Camino Real in Las Cruces. She is also the winner of various awards including the Don Luis Leal Award in Chicano Literature given by the City of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Book Festival, University of California, Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College, as well as the New Mexico Governor's Award in Literature, the Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, and The American Book Award.
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