Reading Corner

First, my apologies for the crappy camera picture as I am in badly need of a new cell phone.

But you know I am a nerd when I’d pull out my cell phone to take a picture of an author I have read and admire. :)

Yes that really is Joyce Carol Oates! She and her husband, a neuroscientist, were seated at the table next to us at the 9th annual Berkeley Public Library Authors Dinner. This annual event, which took place this past Saturday, honors local authors and raises money for the library.

This year my husband and his book American Taliban were recognized at the event. There was a 13-year-old boy into politics who sat at our table and was so excited to meet Markos — it was very cute. “My future intern!” my husband exclaimed.

I was equally star-struck at the event. I remember devouring Oates’s book, Blonde, a 700-page turner about Marilyn Monroe, and am in awe to have learned that she has not only written numerous short stories, poems and periodicals, but 50+ novels. Wow! She was very humble and scoured her table and swag bag for a book for me. Of course, they went quickly!

I also met Raj Patel, a progressive activist and author who has appeared on the Colbert Report. His wife Mini and I traded our husbands’ books. They were such a fun and lovely couple.

Who else was at the event? Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who I have met on other occasions. Also, author Peter Schrag who wrote Not Fit For Society: Immigration and Nativism in America. (Good read!)

Let’s just say this is my idea of a good time. LOL!

So what’s on your night table right now? I am reading Jeannette Walls’s memoir The Glass Castle. It is intense and I can’t put it down! Which reminds me that I’ve been meaning to google her to see what she is working on now. Literary nerds unite!


Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

“Prudie” from the Dear Prudence column had this to say about dealing with racist family members:

I disagree with your advice regarding how to handle bigoted comments by family members. Why shouldn’t you express your disapproval in a polite but firm way? And would your answer change if there were younger people present? I can’t imagine staying silent while someone makes racist comments in the presence of children or adolescents. It’s not snobbery to object to bigotry and intolerance. The original poster said that his fiancee’s family made racist comments in his presence, meaning that they weren’t restrained by the presence of an outsider. What does his fiancee do when her family makes these comments? What does she think about their opinions and behavior?

I did say he and his family were free to decide to do any number of things, from register an objection, to ignore it, to leave.  I agree saying, “Excuse me, but I find that remark offensive,” is a good way to go.

I’ve found the latter response helpful, or approaching it in a light-hearted way. Most recently, I had a similar discussion when I was asked about the “queers in San Francisco.” “First of all, let’s get our gay right,” I responded. “Gay men are in San Francisco and lesbians are in Berkeley.” This led to a very respectful and engaging discussion about the gay community, such as, “do you know that we are close friends with many two-mom families? Yes, they have children who attend our schools, our birthday parties, and live very much like we do,” I said to some snickers, but overall, thoughtful silence. I actually had a family member say she wanted to visit me because “where you live sounds like an interesting place.” She has never been to California, nor does she know any gay people. Progress, right?

In celebrity gossip break: Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are expecting their first child, according to the Huffington Post. Are those two gorgeous or what?

Just a final note on my appearance at this Saturday’s Latinos in Social Media event. In case you missed it, I will be in Los Angeles during the day — the Los Angeles Convention Center — for a panel discussion on how to reach and network with Latina mami bloggers. I will appear with smart mujeres like Elizabeth Cerezo, who writes for the Thoughts of a Mommy and the Spanish Disneylandia al Dia blogs; Ana Lilian Flores, co-founder and co-publisher of SpanglishBaby Media and This I Love; and Silvia Martinez, founder of the Spanish Mamá Latina Tips and contributor to Disneylandia al Dia. Our panel is from 3 p.m. to approximately 3:50 p.m.. The event, by the way, is free to the public. I hope to see some of our L.A.-area moms there!

And before I forget, here are some pictures from the American Taliban book signing in San Francisco. Thank you, Navajo!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?


American Taliban Book Signing

(Photo by Cal Schrotenboer: Markos speaks to a packed room at Books Inc. in Berkeley.)

(Photo by Cal Schrotenboer: Eli and I enjoy Papi’s talk at Books Inc. in Berkeley.)

As I am sure you have all heard on the blogosphere — or Fox News. Ha! — DH just wrote his third, and probably most controversial book yet, American Taliban. Being the wife has its perks, including getting to read a copy before it hits the bookstands.

I know that the title is off-putting, but like the many folks who blurbed the book, including Roger Ebert, Rachel Maddow, and Janeane Garofalo, I think there is some good stuff and it’s his strongest book yet. It is a short, accessible and entertaining read with a host of colorful characters that not even I, a news junky, had heard of, like, the folks at the Conservative Bible Project who are ridding the Holy Book of “liberal bias.” You know, the actual Christian parts of the bible. :)

Or, Shawna Forde, a former member of illegal immigrant vigilante group the Minute Men, who killed a 9-year-old girl and her family because she thought they were undocumented and had drugs. No drugs were found in their home, by the way.

It’s been disappointing to read reviews by liberals who don’t want to stoop down to the level of conservatives like Ann Coulter, who have no qualms writing books about the liberal crazies. But that is exactly the point of this book: no one has done it to conservatives, and as you all know, DH is not afraid to stick his neck out. I, for one, relished every story, which was hilariously put together and deliciously laced with profanity. (Again, only DH.)

The kids and I attended his book signing in Berkeley, our hometown, which was packed with 50 people. The bookstore had only 20 copies of the book and had to order more. I attended another well-attended signing in San Francisco on Friday. It’s always fun to meet the fans!

This is just a random post with gratuitous photos so feel free to discuss what you’d wish. And, of course, if you’d like to pick up a good and quick political read or piss off your conservative in-laws, American Taliban is a hoot.