Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Surreal World

Author Daniel Chacon started off his first Brooklyn appearance at Perch Café in Park Slope, by asking his friend, Amanda, to sing. Daniel hadn’t seen her since 2000 when they met in Cuba. She obliged, singing a few bars of “Amazing Grace.” It was a benediction, a blessing to begin the reading.

Daniel read two stories from his newest book, Unending Rooms. “The Velocity of Mass,” is about an elderly priest that can deliver mass in five minutes flat, a miracle in itself.

He also read “John Boyd’s Story,” which follows the only two “persons of color” at a creative writing program in Oregon. John Boyd, a Native American, writes a story about a Native American man who teaches a white boy what it’s like to grow up on a reservation. After an unforgettably harrowing lesson, (and a fun moment for me, knowing the story and hearing the audience’s collective gasp), the characters in “John Boyd’s Story” respond by asking him, “Why so angry?”

I had met Daniel Chacon two years earlier, at Fresno State University in California. In my senior year as an English major he returned to his alma mater to teach, taking a break from El Paso. His literary heroes are Garcia Lorca and Andres Montoya. Daniel and I were both born and raised in Fresno. When we met, I was wrestling with the idea of moving away for the first time for graduate school to study publishing. At the top of my list was New York City. He encouraged me to pursue what I wanted.

Fast-forward two years: he’s reading from his third book, I’m in Brooklyn to hear it. I told Daniel about my idea to start up a book company publishing multicultural literature. “Let’s do it for real,” he suggested. “Fresno has a wealth of writing talent.” My silent reaction was, “A publishing company? In this economy? Ha!” I realized he has a history of achieving the unlikely. Like the characters he writes about, diverging from cultural norms to believe the magical.

Perch Café has literary readings every Tuesday night. 365 5th Avenue, Brooklyn.

-Sharn Dhah


Anonymous said...

i totally dig native americans

Anonymous said...

i've read his writing and it's completely bizarre yet strangely compelling
good coverage

Anonymous said...

that publishing company sounds like a brilliant idea, just saying, you should go for it!