|Posted by Domingo Martinez on March 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM||comments (2)|
Hello, everyone ... and thank you for your patience since I've been so terribly remiss about updating the site.
Here's my forthcoming schedule for the next few months. Hope you make it out, if I happen to be in your neck of the woods.
March 20-22nd: Concordia College, Minnesota: Land of Ten Touwsand Lakes, Mon.
Then in Austin on April 10th-12th at Texas State University for the Border Writers/Escritores de la Frontera: A Literary Symposium
Then San Antonio, Texas on April 12th through 14th for the Texas Book Festival. Details emerging on that. I'll also be doing a radio interview there called "The Source," more on that later, though.
Then I'm in Little Rock, Arkansas for the Arkansas Book Festival on April 18th-20th.
Then back to Seattle for a fundraiser called "People Eating and Giving," for the 826 Project here in Seattle, the Dave Eggers literacy project thingie. That's on April 26th.
And the University of Washing Library fundraising dinner thingie the evening after that, on the 27th.
And then at the New School in New York City, in May.
Finally, something in Dallas, in November, if I recall.
So I'll be a bit travelly. But I hope to meet everyone of you who's contacted me through the site.
All the best,
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on February 27, 2013 at 9:10 PM||comments (1)|
And for that, I apologize. Things are brewing, and I'll have a full update along with upcoming events and sightings very soon.
I'll be in Michigan later this month, in March, and then in Texas and Arkansas all through April, and then back to New York in May. Then later, some place else. Can't recall as just yet.
Will keep you posted, though. Stand by.
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on November 11, 2012 at 3:00 AM||comments (3)|
Sitting near my gate in Detroit on three hours sleep. After eight flights in three weeks, I finally caught someone's cold. Inevitable. But I did all right at the Wisconsin Book Festival last night, though the act of the evening was clearly Ian Frazier, who brought the house down with his reading from "The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days." But I had to say, Lysley Tenorio's reading of a short story about ambushing the Beatles as they left the Philippines after impugning Imelda Marco's "1 million energy" honor had me enthralled. Recommended. I don't know why they had me on after these four fiction authors; it felt a bit like looking for your "magical realism" book in the LGBT section of a book store. But I went with it, and wasn't in the least bit offended when I sat, singularly, at my table and was approached only by a very young girl who asked for advice on writing her own memoir. (My advice? Look for the discomfort, and explain why it's uncomfortable. That's sort of my code now.)
After 15 minutes, and realizing that the long line of hot, shaggable 70 year old blue hairs were lining up at Ian's and Jo Ann Beard's table, I quietly exited with one of the nicer organizers, Megan, and allowed her to buy me a series of drinks at a local bar.
On to New York, and a tuxedo, and the meeting of Martin Amis.
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on October 31, 2012 at 11:15 AM||comments (7)|
Sitting in an a bad mexican restaurant in the San Antonio airport, waiting my flight to Atlanta, then D.C. Just finished my swing through Texas, six appearances ending in a lecture / conversation at the University of Texas at Brownsville, with Dr Tony Zavaleta.
The Book Festival in Austin went very well, and I was approached by a freelance reporter with plenty of pluck, who wanted to do an in-depth interview with me and my family in South Texas for the New York Times. Yesterday, we received word they're interested, and the interview is proceeding. Fantastic.
I'll be on the Diane Rehme show tomorrow at 11 am, east coast time. And: big announcement coming soon about BKOT's optioning for H-wood.
Spoke to three classes of fairly uninterested high school students on Monday morning, in a large auditorium at my former high school. Except for an odd, uncomfortable exchange with the alpha female principle and the paramilitary interrogation at the start of the morning, it actually went quite well, though it confirms my suspicions that a.) teenagers are mostly dicks and b.) the worst kind of audience. But the teachers were a delight, and I was able to elevate my former journalism teacher, Blanca Perez, as a true inspiration for a lost kid, way back when.
Will have more to say, except that I forgot my fricken power cord for the MacBook, so I have to parcel out the battery.
Do stay tuned ....
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on October 11, 2012 at 9:35 PM||comments (3)|
I was honored as a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award for non-fiction on October 10th, 2012. I was just feeling quite invigorated because This American Life had contacted me again so we could work on the next story, "Faith," for their next episode: Getting Away With It.
I was terribly excited, silently praising my good fortune and their good timing, since the Texas Book Festival was just two weeks away, and it would be a fantastic boon.
Then this happened.
I haven't slept in two days. Mostly from answering email and phone calls, but also from the adrenaline of having your world turned upside down -- and this time -- for the better. For the positive.
For everything you've ever secretly -- and not quite so secretly -- wanted, but were afraid to ask for.
Then NPR kicked my ass, and I'm writing this as I'm half asleep, so I have to shut down now.
I will keep you posted; promise I won't go so long without an update.
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on June 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM||comments (1)|
Mostly glowing: http://tinyurl.com/6wxal8h
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on June 20, 2012 at 9:30 PM||comments (1)|
Very pleased with this.
Straight Outta Brownsville
Domingo Martinez was born in Texas, but he left as soon as he could. His very funny memoir explains why.
by David Dorado Romo
What do you do if you were born and raised in a neglected rural barrio just north of the Mexican border? If you’re Domingo Martinez, the answer is obvious: after you graduate from high school, you leave Texas and settle down in a city as close to the Canadian border as possible. Seattle, for instance. Once you’re there, you find a therapist named Sally and tell her about your experiences growing up in a dysfunctional family and a screwed-up state.
The stories Martinez told Sally, which are included in his first book, The Boy Kings of Texas (Lyons Press, $16.95), are so funny and poignant that his therapy should have been offered free of charge. Better yet, Sally should have paid him for the pleasure of listening. If there’s any justice in the publishing world, there will turn out to be plenty of people eager to read about her client’s childhood.
Though Martinez’s memoir is largely about growing up outside Brownsville with an abusive father and an uninvolved mother, it deals with much more than the usual stuff that sends people to shrinks. There’s advice on everything from how to cook tamales to the best way to transport marijuana from Brownsville to Houston. The book also offers plenty of material for readers interested in broader issues such as immigration, border violence, and other topical matters fronterizo writers have to deal with if they want to get published. But Martinez’s sharp wit, deployed even during the most painful moments, distinguishes The Boy Kings of Texasfrom much of the writing on these subjects.
At the heart of the book is Martinez’s complicated relationship with his father. According to his son, Domingo Martinez Sr. was a boorish truck driver prone to drunken fits of rage whom Domingo Jr., or June, as he was known, describes as “a tyrannical toddler.” Domingo Sr., Martinez writes, liked to brag to his sons about his marital infidelities and whipped his boys regularly with little or no pretext. June was repulsed by the weaknesses and insecurities hidden beneath his father’s veneer of machismo. He couldn’t wait to get away. “In all of his life, all of his choices,” Martinez writes about his father, “I was using him as a reverse compass.” (In the book’s afterword, Martinez notes that his father has since gotten sober, and he expresses some degree of sympathy for the man.)
Ironically, the toughest member of the Martinez “patriarchy” is Martinez’s grandmother. Her heroic feats before crossing into the U.S. as a young woman included killing two ocelots with a tree branch and fending off a would-be rapist with a well-placed log to the head. As a boy, Martinez wasn’t sure whether to believe these stories until he personally witnessed Gramma pound to death not one but two rattlesnakes with a shovel. Now in her late eighties, Gramma might just owe her longevity to having avoided doctors like the plague throughout her life and turning instead to traditional herbs, prayers to the Virgin and Pancho Villa, and the occasional squirt of WD-40 to relieve her arthritis.
Martinez’s sisters are in their own way just as resourceful as Gramma. In one chapter he describes how, in the eighties, his older sisters dropped the excessive, foreign-sounding syllables from their names and reinvented themselves as upper-class WASPs. Margarita became Marge; Maria became Mare. They dyed their hair blond; refused to wear anything without Esprit, Sergio Valente, or Gloria Vanderbilt labels; pretended not to speak a word of Spanish; and began addressing each other simply as “Mimi.” “The Mimis had made their decision to be two blue-blooded, trust-funded tennis bunnies from Connecticut, accidentally living in Brownsville, Texas, with us: a poor Mexican family they had somehow befriended while undergoing some Dickensian series of misfortunes,” Martinez writes. The sisters’ Mimi fantasy was a way to cope with the messages of inferiority they encountered in the “sinister world of teenage fashionistas, which, in Brownsville, was always tinged with border-town racism.”
Martinez sees the pain that lies beneath such masquerades, but he also appreciates their double-edged nature. Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery—it can also be a form of mockery, albeit in this case an unconscious one. Cultural assimilation, in a sense, is an elaborate, lifelong bit of performance art. Even as a kid, Martinez felt the attendant ambiguities that come from being one of the eternally “in-between” people who belong to two different places and don’t entirely fit in either one. “They felt I was not one of them, the Mexican kids, nor was I one of the others, the white kids, and so I adapted,” he writes. “But I didn’t think anyone was capable of understanding, so instead I parceled it out, compartmentalized.”
And though he was compelled to escape South Texas’s stifling heat, entrenched classism, and big hair, he insists that “I can make fun of Texas, but if you’re not from Texas, then you may not. Sure, ours was an abusive relationship, but it was an abuse that grew out of odd circumstances.”
Martinez’s eye for the absurdity of those circumstances helps him avoid the clichés and oversimplifications pervasive in the mainstream media’s take on the border. Though his sense of humor does get him in trouble sometimes. At a house party in Kingsville one night, a frat boy notices that Martinez is attracting female attention with his quick-witted repartee and grumbles, “Give a Mexican some tequila and he gets funny.” This was an extremely insulting thing to say—Martinez is hilarious even when he’s sober—and leads to one of the book’s many brawls.
Martinez’s ability to draw humor out of hardship runs in the family. One year, when the Martinez clan traveled to California to work in the grape harvest, the dashing Mimis transformed themselves into Valley girls. They were the “hippest, cutest, best-dressed migrant workers of that year, and very likely for many years to come,” Martinez explains. “The Mimis had been capable of creating a real sort of magic around them, enchanting both people and places, in such a way that you could be looking at the same dreary landscape as them, the same terrible and hopeless event, and while you might be miserable and bitter, they would be beaming, enthralled, and enthusiastically hopeful. And then, if you got near them, or were blessed enough to maybe talk to them, you would walk away feeling the same way they felt, too.”
The same kind of magic shows up everywhere in The Boy Kings of Texas. The ironic thing is that as a young man Martinez was sure there was no art, no culture, and nothing to do in Brownsville. Yet his book offers evidence that the richest raw material for writers often comes from those parts of the world where there is absolutely nothing to do. Go figure.
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on June 7, 2012 at 3:35 AM||comments (1)|
A bit of a sting toward the end there, but it wouldn't be a critical review otherwise:
From Kirkus Reviews, "The Toughest Book Critics in the World."
THE BOY KINGS OF TEXAS: A Memoir Author by Martinez, Domingo
Review Issue Date: June 15, 2012 Online Publish Date: May 31, 2012
Seattle-based Latino journalist Martinez recalls his youthful adventures in the 1980s romping around the border town of Brownsville, Texas.
Though dirt poor, the author’s Mexican-American family continually demonstrated resilience, solidarity and humor. His parents, “children themselves” right out of high school, began having kids in the late-’60s. In a household of “Sisyphean wetbacks” struggling to make ends meet, Martinez was the youngest. Much like his siblings, he was light-skinned, didn’t identify with Mexican culture, and spoke English, an anomaly in a primarily Spanish-speaking region. From his family’s crowded house emerge resonant stories about a tough, gun-toting, spell-casting Gramma; the death of the family dog and his father’s swift retribution; his two older sisters, “the Mimis,” who dyed their hair blonde, dressed in designer labels and adopted a “Valley Girl” affectation; his hard-drinking, abrasive father’s drug trafficking; shenanigans with friends; turbulence with close older brother Dan; and melancholy recollections of beatings from his parents and what he can remember of their sordid histories. At more than 450 pages, the personal remembrances may prove wearisome, even as the narrative brims with candid, palpable emotion. Still, Martinez lushly captures the mood of the era and illuminates the struggles of a family hobbled by poverty and a skinny Latino boy becoming a man amid a variety of tough circumstances.
A finely detailed, sentimental family scrapbook inscribed with love.
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on April 4, 2012 at 3:45 AM||comments (0)|
So I've sacrificed my eyesight for this book, I want everyone to know. Or perhaps it's the twenty five years of looking at a computer screen that's eroded my vision. Either way, it's Ben Franklin time, and bi focals. Maybe. Not quite sure yet.
The real news, though, is that we're very nearly through the revisions stage (there's about ... four stages, in the revision stage) and that galley proofs have been mailed out and we're in the process of waiting, waiting waiting.
And for other news, too, that I won't mention yet, for fear of that first trimester superstition thing everyone seems to know about, except for me.
Also, I'll finally update photos and explain them a bit more clearly as I know they've been a bit murky in the description, since you haven't read the book yet.
It'll fall into place. You'll see.
|Posted by Domingo Martinez on February 9, 2012 at 12:50 PM||comments (1)|
And I don't mean the Star Wars movie.
Click here to read my piece in the March 2012 issue of The New Republic!
And, well, there might be more and better news on the horizon.