Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday Night in El Barrio

Tonight I read at La Casa Azul Bookstore in El Barrio, at 103rd Street and Lexington Avenue, with the poet-anthropologist Renato Rosaldo. Owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda and her staff have created a great space to read and explore books. Please visit and support this independent bookstore in Manhattan.
With Aurora Anaya-Cerda and Renato Rosaldo
With Raquel Toledo

If you want independent voices in a vibrant culture where not only what sells is available, but also what challenges conventional culture, mores, and politics, then you need to buy books from places like La Casa Azul Bookstore.  You need to support those small and non-profit publishers who nurture these independent voices in print.  You need to buy those quirky magazines and indie literary reviews that give you a fresh perspective on life, that ask you to question your perspective as a reader rather than just reinforce your prejudices.

Afterward Renato, my wife Laura, and a few friends stopped at El Aguila on the corner of the block, for some tacos de carnitas.  Wow, were these tacos excellent, and the agua de horchata!  I didn't want to leave.  And down the block, another taqueria named El Paso.  It was the best Thursday night I've had in a long time.

To end this wonderful night, I am reading one of my son's essays, to help him perfect an already insightful piece on Homer's Odyssey.  It is the simple things that matter, the connections we make with our families every night, the friends with whom you read and share stories and poetry.  Those are the best nights I remember.