Brando Skyhorse was born and raised in Echo Park, a neighborhood of Los Angeles. Here he writes interconnected short stories mostly about the Mexican-Americans living and working in the neighborhood, opening up the community to his readers.
Free Press also acquired the rights for the author’s next book, titled Things My Father Taught Me. Scheduled for release in October 2011, it is described as “a memoir about growing up with five stepfathers, four of whom were con men.” Sounds promising!
Adult/High School–There are thousands of illegal immigrants in Los Angeles, forced to live shadow lives to avoid deportation. Without birth certificates, they cannot attend school and must accept demeaning jobs to eke out a living for themselves and their families. These interlocking stories focus on residents of Echo Park, a neighborhood that was once largely inhabited by Latinos. At the core of the collection is a tragic drive-by shooting in the mid-‘80s. When Madonna’s music video, Borderline, features a brief shot of El Guanaco, a local grocery store, neighborhood women and their daughters start gathering there to dance, dressed as Madonna-inspired cholas. One day, members of a local gang drive by, shooting indiscriminately and killing a three year-old girl. The short stories all stem from this incident, even if indirectly. Teens who found Donald Gallo’s First Crossings: Stories about Teen Immigrants (Candlewick, 2004) intriguing may want to take a further literary plunge into the mire of poverty and racism that often accompanies the immigrant experience. Readers may also find Ha Jin’s A Good Fall: Stories (Pantheon, 2009) or Chitra Divakaruni’s The Unknown Errors of Our Lives: Stories (Doubleday, 2001) to be powerful accounts of immigrant communities.–Diane Colson, New Port Richey Library, FL