Monday, March 26, 2012

The Beautiful Rio Grande Valley

Dear Readers,
For those in the South Texas Rio Grande Valley, you are probably loving the warm sunny weather, the beautiful blooming flowers everywhere, and the lush greenness of the swaying palms:
        I'll be giving a presentation as regards my writing and my new book, El Gusano de Tequila, the Spanish translation of the award-winning novel The Tequila Worm that is set in El Valle, at the New McAllen Public Library on March 27, 2012, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm.
       And on March 29, 2012 (noon to 1pm, CAS 351) , I'll be giving a talk, "El Gusano de Tequila: Living, writing, translating, teaching, and publishing the Spanish translation of the novel The Tequila Worm, with Dr. Elvia Ardalani at the University of Texas/PanAm in Edinburg, Texas, as part of FESTIBA 2012: Festival of International Books & Arts.
I'd love to see you there.
Take care & Buen Camino,

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Obama is No Jack Kennedy

Dear Readers,

Along with the images of the Guardian Angel & the Virgin of Guadalupe, many homes in my barrio had this one:   

That of John F. Kennedy.

Why? Because he symbolized the supernatural values of hope and justice.

I hear so much and from so many how President Obama has dismissed the Latino and other unheard voices calling for justice.

Why, for example, does he, his administration, keep deporting the parents of kids, destroying families? Why doesn't he explore buying oil from Mexico, not just Canada, to help her economy? Why doesn't he instill a sense of urgency in stopping U.S. guns and weapons from flowing into Mexico? Why doesn't he stop the money laundering taking place in the U.S. that is also helping fuel the drug wars? Why doesn't he stop the demand for illegal drugs here in the U.S. ...? Why?...Why?...Why?

He'd probably respond, I'm not a King, who can make laws...I need to work with Congress, as he's said before. But he could've done a lot more at the start of his administration. And now he could at least show and act with a sense of urgency as regards the values of justice and hope by, for example, working in partnership with Mexico to solve the violence and drug issues that the U.S. is enabling and partly responsible for, instead of sitting silently by, allowing the anti-Latino and anti-Mexico drum beat to continue. A drum beat that is robbing many of hope, and beat by beat weakening and destroying families and communities and more.

Without hope, there is despair: This is why Obama is no Jack Kennedy.

Please let me know about your comments or questions at, or by posting a comment here.

Take Care & Buen Camino,


Monday, March 19, 2012

Sacred Images of Childhood

Dear Readers,

      I received several emails as regards the image of the Guardian Angel I posted in my last blog, how their grandmother or mother hung it beside that of the Virgen de Guadalupe. I'm also hearing that during this time of darkness, whether from losing a job or sickness or feeling persecuted by the current misguided anti-Latino nonsense that's passing as journalism, many are finding hope in these images, images they experienced as sacred growing up.

     Growing up, I was taught that happiness and pleasure are two different experiences: where happiness is a spiritual joy, one rooted in living life supernaturally; pleasure is about deriving entertainment from things such as gadgets and status and money, which is flitting.

     This gets me to some of the anti-Latino nonsense being tossed out today as news: about how Latinos are in some way responsible for many, if not all the ills facing this country. To that I say: THAT IS NONSENSE. My personal experience is that America needs Latinos, for they, at least many of them, still live life in a spiritual way, one founded on justice and charity and the belief that we are all God's kids, one sacred family, with the same mother, the one below, who, by the way, appeared in Mexico. (I was happy to read that Vice President Biden went to pay her a visit recently.)

Please email me with any questions or comments at, or leave a comment here.

Take Care & Buen Camino,


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Angels in McAllen, Texas

Dear Readers,
I want to respond to this question:
QUESTION: "What do you find especially unique about the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, where you grew up, and where your books (El Gusano de Tequila, The Tequila Worm, and Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales) are set?
ANSWER: The supernatural: how many people I know live life in a supernatural way.
      What do I mean by this? The other day, on a recent visit to McAllen to visit my 82 year-old mother, I was at a store on Nolana Avenue selecting flowers. My mother wanted to go leave flowers at the cemetery for my late dad, her parents, and her sister. A woman dressed all in yellow was there too. We started talking, and somewhere in the middle of our conversation, she said,"The other day I walked into the beauty shop where I went to get my hair done, and this woman getting her hair cut turned her head towards me, her eyes getting bigger and bigger, her mouth opening more and more. Finally, she said, Wow! You have the biggest angel I've ever seen walking beside you! Everyone turned to look at me, smiling, beaming. The place lit up like a birthday cake!" I smiled, thinking, A typical day in McAllen, at least the McAllen I love and cherish.
     Growing up, I was raised to believe that everyone had a Guardian Angel. I'm now writing a story about this, how such an angel is what is causing the unexplained in the life of an individual, who from all other accounts, should be filled with despair.
     If you believe in angels, or have heard of stories of them appearing or working in El Valle, I would love to hear from you. You can email me at Or you can write a comment on this blog.
     By the way, here's the image of the Guardian Angel I grew up with:
Take Care & Buen camino,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

El Gusano de Tequila

Dear Readers,

I'm happy to introduce you to my new book El Gusano de Tequila, the Spanish translation of my novel The Tequila Worm, which won the 2006 Pura Belpre and PEN USA Awards, has sold over 50,000 copies, and shares the beauty and magic and mystery of the Latino experience in America.

El Gusano de Tequila

Here's the review of El Gusano de Tequila from REFORMA (the National Association to Promote Library & Information to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking):

“El Gusano de Tequila” is the Spanish translation of the award winning “The Tequila Worm.” The translation is as exiting and wonderful as the original English text. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Sofia, a Mexican-American girl growing up in Texas, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Few other books in our time have touched so many readers. The positive role models in the book are a big part of the success of the story and the book in general. The Spanish version of The Tequila Worm (El Gusano de Tequila) is a great addition to any school library or public library with a Spanish speaking population.

For the full review:

Please, if you have any comments or suggestions on what you'd like me to discuss or write or share with you on this blog, email me at

Take Care & Buen Camino,

Viola Canales