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Something to Declare

Essays

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Description

“Julia Alvarez has suitcases full of history (public and private), trunks full of insights into what  it means to be a Latina in the United States,  bags full of literary wisdom.” —Los Angeles Times

From the internationally acclaimed author of the bestselling novels In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents comes a rich and revealing work of nonfiction capturing the life and mind of an artist as she knits together the dual themes of coming to America and becoming a writer.

The twenty-four confessional, evocative essays that make up Something to Declare are divided into two parts. “Customs” includes Alvarez’s memories of her family’s life in the Dominican Republic, fleeing from Trujillo’s dictatorship, and arriving in America when she was ten years old. She examines the effects of exile--surviving the shock of New York City life; yearning to fit in; training her tongue (and her mind) to speak English; and watching the Miss America pageant for clues about American-style beauty. The second half, “Declarations,” celebrates her passion for words and the writing life. She lets us watch as she struggles with her art--searching for a subject for her next novel, confronting her characters, facing her family’s anger when she invades their privacy, reflecting on the writers who influenced her, and continually honing her craft.

The winner of the National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling, Julia Alvarez here offers essays that are an inspiring gift to readers and writers everywhere.

“This beautiful collection of essays . . . traces a process of personal  reconciliation with insight, humor, and quiet power.”  —San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle

“Reading Julia Alvarez’s new collection of essays is like curling up  with a glass of wine in one hand and the phone in the other,  listening to a bighearted, wisecracking friend share the hard-earned wisdom about family, identity, and the art of writing.” —People

From Publishers Weekly

Aug 03, 1998 – Having transformed her tumultuous life story--a passage from childhood in the Dominican Republic and Queens, N.Y., to a career as a celebrated author and creative writing teacher--into a body of startlingly lyrical fiction and poetry ( Yo!, etc.), Alvarez here chronicles that journey in nonfiction form. These 24 autobiographical essays are meant to answer various questions her readers have posed about her life and her writing. For Alvarez, these questions ultimately can be summed up in one line: "Do you have anything more to declare?" The first section of the book, "Customs," paints with vibrant, earthy clarity--in classic Alvarez style--the author's Dominican girlhood, surrounded by the rich cast of characters that made up her extended family and the constant menace of dictator Rafael Trujillo's police state. She also describes her escape to the U.S. with her parents and sisters, along with the assimilation that made her a "hyphenated American." The seeds of her writerly beginnings are picked out here and then further explored in the second part of her book, "Declarations." These essays examine the difficult balance between the writing life and "real life"; the joys of teaching; the daily process of writing; and an unsuccessful trip to Necedeh, Wis., to research a potential novel. Alvarez also includes her "ten commandments" for writing, which consist of some of the author's favorite quotes (beginning with a Zen saying and ending with Samuel Johnson's well-known credo, "If you want to be a writer, then write. Write every day!"). Taken together, the pieces are as open and lively as Alvarez's readers have come to expect from her work, although the inspiration and guidance they offer to aspiring writers are less striking. FYI: Plume has just published the Spanish-language edition of Alvarez's second novel, In the Time of the Butterflies; Plume's Spanish edition of Yo! will be out in 1999.
Something to Declare
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Aug 01, 1998
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 300 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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