As I gaze at my bibliophilic mass and scour through various references and guides, I’ve come upon a conundrum; a problem that supersedes the complexities of literary and moral universes; a quandary that has amazingly bypassed the slew of great minds that have slaved over hot pens, pencils and keyboards in the centuries before us.
How the hell did the people who composed the very first dictionary know they had it right the first time?!
That’s not a rhetorical question, dear readers! I need an answer! Our verbose lives depend on it!
I’m excited to announce that a global literary and free speech organization, PEN International, has established a new chapter in Dallas, Texas. Founded in London in 1921, PEN International has a very simple mission: preserve literature in all its forms and ensure everyone can engage in free speech and freedom of expression. These are core elements in any truly democratic society, but they are constantly being challenged and even threatened by self-appointed guardians of writing, journalism and speech; people who seem to think they have the right and the power to determine what the rest of us can say and read. It’s a never-ending battle and, sadly, it never will be won. Those of us who advocate for a free press and free speech will always have to confront the oligarchical bullies who feel they – and only they – are blessed with inalienable rights to speech and literature.
Pen International felt the need to
establish the Dallas / Fort Worth chapter in the wake of the fraudulent 2016
U.S. presidential election, which has given us an arrogant, foul-mouthed,
womanizing, reality TV star in the White House.
“At a time of exceptional threats to
free expression and open discourse, our chapters will bring years of
mobilization, activism and organizing among writing communities across the
country to the next level,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.
The Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, as well
as others around the U.S. will be vehicles for “pushing back against the
breakdown of civil discourse, the marginalization of vital voices, and
encroachments on press freedom.”
This shouldn’t be a surprised to anyone
familiar with U.S. politics. I’ve noticed
over the years that, any time a conservative Republican lands in the White
House, free speech and freedom of the press come under attack. They have no problems loosening gun laws and
sending our military to fight stupid wars (as if there’s such a thing as a “smart”
war). But, when it comes to education,
health care and even voting, conservatives suddenly feel the need to debate the
Regardless of how hard we have to fight
to ensure the rights to free speech and freedom of the press, we will always
take up the torch of liberty and justice.
Everyone has a story and everyone needs to
Once again, it’s time for “Banned Books Week” – the annual event where we free speech advocates and other enlightened souls are forced to counter the anger of the holier-than-thou crowd who somehow feel imbued with the power to tell everyone else what they can read and see. Help support literacy and education. It’s they’re the best tools against ignorance and arrogance. This is a battle we’ll never win. But it’s always worth fighting!
“The writing is — I’m free from pain. It’s where nobody tells me what to do; it’s where my imagination is fecund and I am really at my best. Nothing matters more in the world or in my body or anywhere when I’m writing.”
It’s great to know the e-version of my debut novel is now on sale at Wal-Mart – right next to the cheesy romance stuff. But hey, a writer has to start somewhere, right?!
Juan Miguel thought of his great-aunt again and suddenly recollected another death even further back – one of his parents’ friends. He’d never met the woman, but watched his mother, Marisol, become overwhelmed with grief; an unusually emotional response from a woman who’d driven herself to the hospital during evening rush hour, when she thought she’d gone into labor with him.
She and some other old friends had gathered shortly after the rosary – another long-ass rosary – to reminisce about their younger days and quickly found themselves laughing in the sanctity of the funeral home.
“Like I’ve said before,” his father, Armando, interjected, almost philosophically, “you need to get together.”
And everyone agreed. They needed to get together; reconvene under more pleasant circumstances and relive the best parts of their lives. They promised to call each other and do something; have lunch or dinner – anything! Just stay in touch before it was too late. Then they left – and his parents never heard from anybody.
James paused before stepping onto the patio. Juan Miguel followed.
A crescent moon hovered above. He heard voices – and music. He looked around, as the voices became louder; people talking and laughing, while gathered along the walkways in the yard. Then, he noticed the orbs of light amidst the trees – lanterns. Along with the moon, they lit up the area. The chatter and laughter continued, as the orchestral music grew stronger.
“She’s out there,” James said. “She’s waiting for you. She loves you.” He receded into the house and dropped into a chair. The blue-eyed cat hopped onto his lap. He began caressing it, as the animal laid its head upon its paws.
Juan Miguel peered into the foliage through the opaque light of both the moon and the lanterns. The laughter – it sounded so good. Nights made for lovers. He smiled, as floral aromas swarmed around him, and light winds cavorted with the trees.
Remember, my debut novel, “The Silent Fountain”, is available in both print and e-versions. It’s the perfect gift – birthday, Christmas, retirement, a month without a road incident – for anyone on any occasion, especially those who like their romance a little on the creepy – I mean, surreal! – side.