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Here is what you should know about Michael Jaime-Becerra: He did not have to leave home to write about it. His writing does not feed the idea that L. Jaime-Becerra becerrx publishing work about El Monte as a poet. That series also published Sandra Cisneros and Jimmy Santiago Baca, which is quite an accomplishment all by itself.

El Monte Forever: A Brief History of Michael Jaime-Becerra – Tropics of Meta

It begins with a close up of a just-finished rose tattoo, a baby name beneath it. Not all of them, though. His jacket is covered with patches with band names that sound like death, among them are: I can pull from different periods of El Monte […].

I am glad for this since, I also illustrate this side of Latino Los Angeles that people ignore, with characters who are self-defined, and push against stereotypes.

Jaime-Becerra is a dedicated and impeccable teacher. He expects rigorous thinking and analysis of novels, stories, and your own writing. To paraphrase him in class and his colleague, Susan Straight: His syllabus warned that some students may consider the content of a collection to be offensive, and that if you could not read a book on its own terms, you should take another class.

As far as professors go to ensure that everyone is ready for the material, that policy is as punk as it gets. When I first read that book, I was heartened that writers could come from neighborhoods like the one I grew up in Los Angeles and is one of the reasons I chose UCR for grad school.

I know this man, and he might be my uncle or father. That kind of opportunity is rare in urban, largely Latino, and working-class classrooms. The stories in this book travel down Peck Road with eye-lined teenagers on their way to give a couple of bad dudes practice tattoos. This is what Los Angeles looks like, with cholos playing a minor role, and the rest of us front and center.

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His poetic language, eye for detail, and references to Los Angeles Latino culture also stand out in his second book, This Time Tomorrow. For instance, the protagonist, Gaeta, takes his girlfriend Josie to a Juan Gabriel concert. If you are not familiar with Juan Gabriel and his monolithic importance to Mexican-Americans, artists, everybody and their mothers, I recommend you look into it. So when I finished reading the concert scene, I immediately regretted not having writing the thing myself.

In fact, when I contacted Jaime-Becerra about applying to UC Riverside for graduate school, I mentioned that scene in my email and told him I appreciated the reference and the nod to our pop culture very much.

Everyman to heroic heights.

It is at least ten minutes east, and to be sure, there is not just one kind of man in either place. There are many men, some with cleavers, some with publishing contracts, and some writing under names to make them legit. Students were excited about the content, a well-written account of a homie in East L.

A few days later, Susan revealed to the students that the book was written by an Irish-American priest, no less, who changed his pen name to write the novel. Jaime-Becerra thought of this moment when he looked at his first chapbook.

Who the hell is that writing about El Monte? In October ofJaime-Becerra visited Kranz Intermediate, a school he attended, to read poems and short story excerpts to a raucous ovation from the middle schoolers. One eighth grader said:. It was good that Mr.

Becerra came to talk to us. I liked relating to all the stuff he read from his books. It was cool seeing the author and hearing it out of his mouth. Out of all the work submitted throughout the county, hundreds of students from Claremont to the San Fernando Valley, his book placed third. In an interview several years ago, he said:. It convinced me that writing was what I wanted to do for a living. His influences, literary and otherwise, clearly derive from the mundane and from a vast well of role models.

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Some of his biggest influences are master short story tellers. If John Cheever or William Trevor had spent their early careers living and typing away in a bungalow in the San Gabriel Valley, absorbing its sensations and getting to know its residents, this [book] might be the result. Jaime-Becerra is currently at work on a new novel, but before the school year ended this past spring, he said he was going to paint his house one wall at a time because he saw his neighbor do it.

Given his eye for detail, as a writer and a teacher, I wonder if he considered Cheever the way he did his neighbor. Indeed, he must have observed how his neighbor painted the outside walls of his home steadily, one at a time, until it was finished.

Of course he will. She is a Chicana raised in south east Los Angeles, which lacks murals and frequently-passing public transit. Her poetry collection, Swallowswas released in by Finishing Line Press.

To keep up with her writing, visit vertiz.

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You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. One eighth grader said: In an interview several years ago, he said: East of East Series 1. Prev Dropping a Dime on Madiba: East of East Boom: A Journal of California. East of East — dev-boom.

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