Confessions of a Book Burner: Personal Essays and Stories
by Lucha Corpi
Publication Date: March 31, 2014
Writer and activist Lucha Corpi was four years old when she started first grade with her older brother, who refused to go to school without her. The director of the small school in Jáltipan de Morelos in the Mexican state of Veracruz knew the family, and he gave permission for the young girl to accompany her brother “just for a while.” She was given a desk in the back of the classroom, where she sat quietly in her little corner. Just as quietly, she learned to add and subtract, to read and write.
In this moving memoir, Corpi writes about the pivotal role reading and writing played in her life. As a young mother living in a foreign country, mourning the loss of her marriage and fearful of her ability to care financially for her son, she turned to writing to give voice to her pain. It “gave me the strength to go on one day at a time,” though it would be several years before she dared to call herself a poet.
Corpi’s insightful and entertaining personal essays span growing up in a small Mexican village to living a bilingual, bicultural life in the United States. Family stories about relatives long gone and remembrances of childhood escapades combine to paint a picture of a girl with an avid curiosity, an active imagination and a growing awareness of the injustice that surrounded her. As an adult living in California’s Bay Area, she became involved in the fight for bilingual education, women’s and civil rights.
In addition to examining a variety of topics relevant to today’s world—including race, discrimination and feminism—Corpi relates riveting family tales of mountain men and cannibals, preachers and soothsayers, old-style machos and women who more than hold their own. These confessions offer an intriguing vision of the rich and complex world of an acclaimed poet and novelist.
“The Mexican-American writer and poet Lucha Corpi reflects on the relationship between writing and memory in her recently published collection of essays, Confessions of a Book Burner. In these stories, Corpi departs from the mystery genre in which she has excelled during the last decades to offer a look at her personal history. These examples demonstrate Corpi’s skill at including compelling topics in essays that are light, colorful, and ephemeral.”—EFE
“For the aspiring writers, Confessions of a Book Burner offers a great lesson in finding inspiration from within and without. And for the casual reader, Corpi gives that rare blend of cultural commentary and personal history.”—NewPages
“A lively and out of the ordinary book that is sure to delight you at every turn.”—TheLatinoAuthor.com
“…Lucha crafts an impelling look at the hopes, fears and dreams that led to her becoming an established Chicana poet. Storytelling, instrumental to learning family history in many Mexican homes, is used by Lucha to craft her own story and bring it to life for her readers. Confessions of a Book Burner is a must-have for students of Chicano history, lovers of poetry, and those interested in seeing how an immigrant from Mexico changed her world.”—You Decide: Should I Read it or Not?
LUCHA CORPI is an internationally recognized poet, novelist and children’s book author. She is the author of the Gloria Damasco Mystery series, which includes Eulogy for a Brown Angel (1992), Cactus Blood (1995), and Death at Solstice (2009). Her first poetry collection, reissued by Arte Público Press in 2001, is entitled Palabras de mediodía / Noon Words. She is the recipient of numerous awards and citations, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Prize in fiction and the Multicultural Publishers Exchange Book Award of Excellence in Adult Fiction. She was a tenured teacher in the Oakland Public Schools Neighborhood Centers Program for over 30 years.