Day 23. Brevity is the soul of wit #sol19 #solsc

slice-of-life_individualMarch 23rd

Sometimes I think I am witty, but as my daughter always tells me, it’s the sort of wit that only I can understand.

I want to talk about my friend and author Manuel Valderrama Donaire, that I have mentioned already in another slice of life. He is a fan of our writer’s workshop and once in a while he pops in to see how we are doing and shares his latest work in progress. It’s always fun to hear what he has to say. He is an avid reader and knows a lot about literature and history. A good writer has to be a good reader, he says. He has a radio show called the irreverent reader, but he is also an irreverent writer.

Three years ago, I read one of his three novels, Uno de los vuestros (PeZsapo, 2016), a very witty and sarcastic short novel where he touches on the Spanish 21st century economic crisis and corruption in a humorous way. Through the life of Juan Anselmo, the protagonist, Manuel calls into question the entire society, and the things that people can do to be what is considered ¨successful and  powerful.” I went to the launching of this book at the public library of my town, where I met Manuel for the first time and learned that we live very close by.

Despite living in the same small town, I never saw Manuel again until I joined the writer’s workshop last October. Then I realized he has published a third and more ambitious novel, Egolatría [Egotism]. I kept thinking I should read it since I was seeing him more often. I was being cheap, and decided to check his book out at the public library. I already had so many books to read that never opened it. Then I thought, I should buy the book and support local authors. He is the type of writer that I want to keep publishing.

I pushed away the temptation of grabbing my phone and getting the novel in one click, and probably cheaper, via Amazon. Instead, at the beginning of March, I stopped by at the local bookstore, had a nice chat with the owner, and bought the last copy. It felt good. I saw Manuel two times after my purchase. I knocked my head on the wall for not having the book with me, so he can sign it.

Last Thursday, I had the hunch he was going to join us at our workshop, so I put the book in my already full backpack. And voilá, when I entered in the room, there he was! I got the autograph! The book is now in my suitcase, and will fly with me to the States. When I finish it, I promise I will write about it.

Manuel also fed my own “egotism” by writing a very nice dedication on the title page. I feel flattered and humbled at the same time, and so inspired. Now I need to write a novel since I can´t be brief. I hope I keep my wit, even if I am the only one that understands it.

A mi compañera escritor y amiga, Pía, que lleva el metrónomo de una novelista insertada en su prosa. Mil gracias y un besazo, Manuel VD” [To my fellow writer and friend, Pia, who carries the metronome of a novelist inserted in her prose. A thousand thanks and a big kiss, Manuel VD]

About writing: The oak that shook the world

Writing exercise 01Writing exercise 02Writing exercise 03

When I was finishing my MLIS at CUA in April 2006, one of the tasks we have to do was to prepare a portfolio with all the classes we had taken that somehow reflected our expertise in school libraries.

Today I was looking for something else and found that analog portfolio. I started browsing it, and caught my attention this piece I wrote (see above picture). I didn’t remember doing it, until little by little my brain started to put pieces together and recalling the details of it.

In the Fall of 2003, I was working as a resource assistant (interpreter and translator) at Barrett Elementary school, in Arlington, Virginia. My job was OK, have lots of interactions with parents, and worked very closely with the parent liaison leading workshop together for Hispanic parents around the Washington DC area. She became my best and lasting friend. Sometimes, though, I was buried in my office translating 600 reports cards comments. So, I was always looking for ways of learning more, and seeing ways of crossing the limitations of my position as an assistant .

When I learnt the teaching staff was going to take a class called The teaching of Writing, PK-6 with Jane Hansen, author of When writers read, and professor at the Curry School of Education from the University of Virginia, I remember running into the principal’s office (who at that time was now retired Terry Bratt), begging her to let me take the course. She looked and smiled at me, and was kind enough to let me participate. Thank you Terry!!!

All what I remember from now on it’s speculative. When I looked at the piece I wrote (and made), my guess was that we needed to write a book review of Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life by Natalie Goldberg, (Bantam, 1990). Probably, one of the exercises that Golberg (or our professor) was suggesting to do for writing was to cut unfinished sentences from magazines and glue them randomly, but in lines with space in between, on a piece of paper, and then…fill in the blanks without too much thinking. Probably that’s what I did (lot’s of grammar mistakes, but that’s just me, a life long ESOL ).

Here is a transcription of my piece. In bold and colored are the unfinished sentences from magazines (I kept the original upper and lower cases of the magazines).

Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life

by Natalie Goldberg,
(Bantam, 1990)

The Last Word of Goldberg’s book is write.
The first word is Life.
That’s what to certain degree reflects the idea of this book.
Writing is Life. Life is Writing.
Golberg is A Writer Who Beat the Odds of redundancy.
In Chile When Times Were difficult, we used to help each other.
There are True tales from her life. She loves to hear her voice. That’s for sure.
Why Even Try to write or dedicate your life to teach writing if you don’t write? DON’T BE so stuffy. Just let it go. Keep your hand moving, and let it run as smoothly as possible. Don’t let the editor to interrupt. How can we make the flow flow?

Tough, We Went ‘Bare’ riding bareback. That doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, while I’m sitting in my office I’m thinking in all the clothes I need to fold. Is your laundry amount as ours?
Creativity, a history of searching.
 eyes pop out. It’s so difficult to pronounce [my name]. They say: “What a pretty name”, but I know what they really are saying is “What a strange name!”
The original or The Imitation?
I don’t want to divide our lives in your world and my world.
We are are two. We need TO RIDE together.  He looked at me with such a pain in his eyes, I felt a poison arrow in my chest. I hit him hard.
I was talking  about a culture on the verge of collapse. I was thinking that he LIVES BETTER. Calm, wise, firm, tender. All the characteristics of a good human being.
Everybody is accelerated.
We should pay more attention to MAGIC. Otherwise, There’s no relief in sight.
Everyday life has lost its sight. If true, we’re all in trouble. Where did we leave our dreams?
I do is to easy to say when you get married. Then Expect The Incomparable.
It’s like salt and pepper. Shake them well, and maintain them even. Don’t put too much though.
A FREE spirit doesn’t mean you have to destroy your opponent, to say mean words.
Slamming the others won’t take you anywhere.
I have to BURN BAD KARMA. An evil is inside my mind and makes me say mean words and be unhappy.
They were LEFT BEHIND! Why you didn’t wait for them? I JUST GO TO the laundry room. Remember? I have to do my laundry.
Now it’s My Turn of doing the dishes. Really? That’s nice, you know?
What a Long, and dreadful day I have today.

The jobless people in the States can survive. In Chile they don’t. Destiny or Disaster? Who knows.
If the shoe fits I will make Donna happy. The best thing to do is to get them as a birthday present.
“ALL OF WHAT I do, I do it for you. Liar! You do it for you. I WORK EVERY DAY to bring food to this table and never receive any kind gesture from your part. Why are we being so negative? Might be these words.Have a good trip AND ENJOY IT.”We will have time TO GROW older together.

WHY’S THE SKY BLUE? Because the elephant was tired of the gray firmament, put blue paint in his trunk and tossed it in the sky. The next morning the whole space was blue, cerulean blue.
The cereal is here. But it is too high. I cannot reach it, Mami! Go AND HELP your brother! Don’t you see I am busy? I have TO DELIVER this package, I have TO FEED the dog, and still you expect me to run immediately and get your cereal?

Oh well, IT’S GOOD anyway.
The book. Kind of redundant. Yet Another source of inspiration. Some paragraphs are very entertaining and other are useful. It’s a Strange Trip to Golberg’s life. (Sometimes I couldn’t stand her examples). She wanted TO ILLUMINATE us, poor beginners.
Yeah! Look how good a writer I am.
You are mad.
No, maybe envious :).
(RE)COLOR MY WORLD. Give me a break.
And Now You Know what to say.
Rest in Peace?
No way. I need TO MEET my voice, my hidden voice. It’s Just the Beginning. Mix feeling of reading. If you like to look at my point as a way TO THRIVE in your writings.

An oak is massive. And firm. THAT SHOOK THE WORLD


Fifteen years have passed by. Certainly this was a fun exercise I would like to try again with students or with myself. Probably, I will have a tougher time finding the unfinished sentences from magazines. I might get a dentist appointment and steal some of them from the waiting room.

¿Está un libro de tu biblioteca R.A.N.C.I.O.?: Cuando llega el momento de deshacerse de libros en una biblioteca

Cómo-se-ordena-una-biblioteca-200x0-000038111240Me estoy leyendo el libro  Cómo se ordena una biblioteca compilado por Jorge Fondebrider (2014. Santiago: LOM) que me acaba de regalar un amigo, estudiante de historia. En él me he encontrado con un artículo de un compañero y ayudante de la universidad, que ahora es profesor establecido del Instituto de Historia de la UC en Santiago. Todos los artículos tratan más que nada del orden de las bibliotecas personales de cada uno de los contribuyentes de este libro, por lo que en muchos casos se cae en la acaparación y deseo de posesión compulsivo, y el expurgo ocurre cuando ya no hay espacio físico para sostener los diferentes libros. Es interesante ver el criterio que utiliza cada uno para organizar sus libros personales.

Sin embargo, en el caso de una biblioteca escolar o de aula, o de cualquier biblioteca que se precie de conocer a sus miembros ajenos a uno mismo, es necesario aplicar criterios que respeten y conozcan al lector, por lo que hay que ir más allá de los gustos personales, eliminando el afán por acaparar y así, aprender a desprenderse de libros que no ayudan a nuestros lectores a continuar leyendo.

Basándome en el acrónimo MUSTIE que representa los seis factores negativos que hacen que un libro sea candidato al expurgo y que son  mencionados en el manual de expurgo de Jeannette Larson, CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries (2012, Texas State Library and Archives Commission), y las sugerencias entregadas por Donalyn Miller en su libro Reading in the Wild (pp. 85-86) he creado un acrónimo en español que puede servir para deshacerse de libros en las bibliotecas, especialmente las escolares: ¿Hay un libro R.A.N.C.I.O.?

Otra parte

IMG_0537R= Reemplazable. Son reemplazables los libros que salen anualmente como el libro de Guiness World records, los almanaques, libros de deportes o biografías de artistas que ya no están de moda. Libros que sugieren tecnología o páginas de internet que ya no existen, ediciones viejas con letra pequeña o cubierta poco atractiva que pueden adquirirse nuevas con una apariencia más moderna, o biografías de cantantes o deportistas efímeros que no han hecho precisamente historia y que IMG_0538se pueden reemplazar con nuevas caras, o renovar las antiguas que han trascendido o que van acorde con el curriculum escolar . Son también reemplazables aquellos libros de información que se pueden reemplazar por otros con una información muchísimo más atractiva y mejor.

A=Ajado . Libros (a no ser que estén descatalogados) con manchas, páginas rotas, lomos abiertos, páginas sueltas o pegadas y repegadas, desaniman a los lectores y hasta a veces se les falta el respeto al mostrar una apariencia tan desaliñada. Es como decirles, “tú no vales lo suficiente como para que adquiramos una copia nueva de tu libro favorito”. En algunos casos esto no quiere decir que haya que expurgarlos y olvidarse del asunto. Muchas veces, los libros ajados son síntoma de un libro muy requerido y que de tanto uso se han desgastado o destrozado. En estos casos hay que reemplazarlos por una nueva copia o edición. Hay otros, sin embargo, que cumplen con todos los requisitos de rancio y deben salir de la biblioteca.


N= Nimio. A veces hay libros algo superfluos en nuestra bibliotecas que se han adquirido para un alumno en particular para entusiasmarlo en la lectura, pero que en definitiva no es de gusto general, no tienen un mérito literario  o valor de investigación. Las series muy extensas que muchas veces no superan el paso del tiempo, ocuparían todas nuestras estanterías si adquiriéramos todos los números, por lo que se pueden tener los tres a seis primeros libros de la serie, pero el resto dejarlo para la biblioteca pública, Papá Noel o Los Reyes Magos. O si realmente el interés aumenta,pensar en continuar la serie. Podemos también pensar en deshacernos de los libros que han estado de moda por programas de televisión o películas y que con los años su interés ha declinado. Cultura popular pasada de moda.Libros de interés efímero.IMG_0545

C= Caducado. El gusto de los lectores cambia. Libros que hace cinco o seis años interesaban a la juventud, hoy no interesan a tantos. Aunque no se deberían eliminar libros de calidad en buenas condiciones, se puede reducir las copias de éstos para dar espacio a títulos nuevos, más relevantes. La biblioteca debería reflejar la evolución o cambios en el curriculum  y los cambios en los gustos de los estudiantes.

I= InexactIMG_0548o. Es hora de deshacerse de libros que estén en las estanterías y contengan información inexacta o pasada de moda, como los 9 planetas del sistema solar o un atlas del mundo anterior a 1991. Cuando hay revisiones en el pensamiento o información nueva,  hay que poner especial atención, especialmente en temas de medicina, tecnología o viajes y decirle a estos libros “hasta la vista”.

O=  Otra parte. Libros que se pueden encontrar en otras partes como en unIMG_0546a biblioteca pública,  o universitaria, podemos abstenernos de tenerlos en la estantería escolar, como, por ejemplo, todos los libros de una colección sobre los grandes pensadores de la historia entregada con un periódico, o el listado completo de los libros con premio Planeta, SM o similar. Se pueden seleccionar los que sigan manteniendo el interés, y el resto donarlos a la Biblioteca Pública u otra entidad, donde pueden tener una mejor salida. Lo mismo ocurre con los clásicos de la literatura. Aquellos que están disponibles en formato digital en o Proyecto Gutenberg, a lo mejor habría que expurgar físicamente,especialmente si no está en buenas condiciones.
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