Like the pic shows, my story "Wake Up Gringo" won honorary mention at The Ghost Story 2021 Contest.
I wrote this story in a collection I had planned then nixed involving two characters, The Kid and El Viejo, living in a rural house surrounded by a howling, screeching border as they try to live out a mundane life that mutates and causes them to question the veracity of their existence, that is, are they real folks or trapped in someone's weird narrative which they didn't choose. Such is life for a half-breed quasi-vato in the USA. I may complete it at some point, but for now, this story is a part of Mexpocalyptic Tales, a slipstream and speculative collection anticipating and reveling in the Mexpocalypse, the nuclear blast of Xicano formation and ascendancy. A collection closer and closer to launching.
I wrote "Wake Up Gringo" years ago, as often happens with a story's inception to actual publication. Most writers back in the day would say they wrote it in a lazy day and did no editing and it got published that afternoon. I respected Julio Cortázar who would say he wrote a draft 20 years ago and then rewrote it for years.
I recall wanting this story to give the same sense of an early Chicano collection from the 70s where work was rawish, pithy but searching and new.
It's great to win honorary mention, this is the first time I've placed in a contest and the winner was an Indigenous person. Now to get some books published...
The year has gotten away from me or rather grew so large, weird and terrible I got away from it. My next post, months ago was going to be on the history of Zorro since I researched Zorro as his fanboy is the villain in my novel. Then a post on mental health and writing a fantastic memoir (fantastic as in with fableistic or fantasy elements). Well the plague hit.
And Somos en escrito hit. The press has had project after project, at least behind the scenes. A book called Postcards from a PostMexican, an upcoming fantasy book from Rudy Ch. Garcia, now R. Ch. Garcia, a nonfiction Latina(o/x) anthology and a few unmentioned projects and the magazine in general. Also I'm a member of MeXicanos2070 trying to help out with the Colegio Chicano del Pueblo in my limited capacity.
Added to the stress, my cat is dying.
The Zorro post is also put off by the publication of a book I'm working through, Zorro's Shadow, so I may recall some of the facts (and I'm very curious to the author's conclusions). He himself is describing the journey of discovering of learning of the past and Zorro. I'm liking it so far, the author is no villain. I'm even taken in by Zorro's Victorian style adventuring, though not his pro-colonial depictions.
The lockdown has come with red skies, protests, masses of unmasked idiots in parks, and my pavo loco friend getting put into the clink. I'm already a shut in recluse, my job in the city got axed, I have little reason to go outside and see the crowded yuppie joggers and knuckleheads at the lake, it won't be the young dying, but spreading death...
But this is a magic update!
Magic, which is sorely needed by everyone, especially me. The isolation, what passes for reality pushed through doomy media, the too much TV, the worry, the what the hell am I doing, and the few friends and too many dead relatives that age brings have crunched down to form a shell and a hollowness inside. Well, the mopey hollowness I've always had is now vacuumed and pressure sealed.
Give me some magic, some glasses that can see beyond the screen for a moment. Just going to the corner, seeing the old Grand Lake movie sign and the lake feels like a festival, the magic of the suspension of the isolation norm. Unfortunately, a festival of death with the plague and the careless as I said, but human contact, stretching of limbs and even heading to the city for a horrid work space is sorely missed. "People watching" as someone had commented to me.
I, the introvert avoider, miss people.
And some magic people put my story "How I Drove the New Mexican Deathcart" in a Magic Realism anthology. Unity, Volume 1: A Magical Realism Anthology. (How is that for a segue?)
Despite appearances, I wouldn't say I go out of the way to write Magic Realism. I try to explain something, discover something in metaphor. Here I wanted to reconnect to a tale and an image I had seen as a kid and later in college in a book...Santa Muerte, or in New Mexico Santa Sebastiana who drives the New Mexican death cart. I get night terrors, particularly so in my 20s and I've always been afraid of heights, which boils down to fear of the end and poor eyesight.
Santa Sebastiana, who I connect with poetically, is a vehicle to help me confront the fear. Along with some other post-colonial trying to exist in the land as brown person aspects. You might even say dealing with gringo death vs. Xicano death.
Be a magic person and check out the book and tell folks how much you like lil' Scotty's story.
Next time...Zorro, once more.
The fantasy that transformed California