Something to Declare: Essaysby Julia Alvarez
From the internationally acclaimed author of the bestselling novels In the Time of the Butterflies and How the/i>/b>/i>
- LendMe LendMe™ Learn More
“Julia Alvarez has suitcases full of history (public and private), trunks full of insights into what it means to be a Latina in the United States, bags full of literary wisdom.” —Los Angeles Times
From the internationally acclaimed author of the bestselling novels In the Time of the Butterflies and How the García Girls Lost Their Accents comes a rich and revealing work of nonfiction capturing the life and mind of an artist as she knits together the dual themes of coming to America and becoming a writer.
The twenty-four confessional, evocative essays that make up Something to Declare are divided into two parts. “Customs” includes Alvarez’s memories of her family’s life in the Dominican Republic, fleeing from Trujillo’s dictatorship, and arriving in America when she was ten years old. She examines the effects of exile--surviving the shock of New York City life; yearning to fit in; training her tongue (and her mind) to speak English; and watching the Miss America pageant for clues about American-style beauty. The second half, “Declarations,” celebrates her passion for words and the writing life. She lets us watch as she struggles with her art--searching for a subject for her next novel, confronting her characters, facing her family’s anger when she invades their privacy, reflecting on the writers who influenced her, and continually honing her craft.
The winner of the National Medal of Arts for her extraordinary storytelling, Julia Alvarez here offers essays that are an inspiring gift to readers and writers everywhere.
“This beautiful collection of essays . . . traces a process of personal reconciliation with insight, humor, and quiet power.” —San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle
“Reading Julia Alvarez’s new collection of essays is like curling up with a glass of wine in one hand and the phone in the other, listening to a bighearted, wisecracking friend share the hard-earned wisdom about family, identity, and the art of writing.” —People
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 4 MB
Read an Excerpt
TEN OF MY WRITING COMMANDMENTS
I. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few.
II. The obligation of the artist is not to solve the problem but to state the problem correctly.
III. Do not be afraid!
--ANGELS APPEARING TO SHEPERDS TENDING THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT
IV. If you bring forth what is inside you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is inside you, what is inside you will destroy you.
--ST. THOMAS, GNOSTIC GOSPELS
V. Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling. It should be precise about the thing and reticent about the feeling.
VI. One must write a poem the way one rules an empire, the way one cooks a small fish.
VII. El papel lo aguanta todo. (Paper holds everything.)
VIII. You must change your life.
--RAINER MARIA RILKE
IX. The function of freedom is to free someone else.
X. If you want to be a writer, than write. Write every day!
Excerpted from Something to Declare Copyright (c) 1998 Julia Alvarez. Reprinted by permission of Algonquin.
Meet the Author
Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. A novelist, poet, and essayist, she is the author of nineteen books, including How the García Girls Lost Their Accents,In the Time of the Butterflies—a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Selection—Yo!, Something to Declare, In the Name of Salome, Saving theWorld, A Wedding in Haiti, and The Woman I Kept to Myself. Her work has garnered wide recognition, including the 2013 National Medal of Arts, a Latina Leader Award in Literature in 2007 from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the 2002 Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, the 2000 Woman of the Year by Latina magazine, and inclusion in the New York Public Library’s 1996 program “The Hand of the Poet: Original Manuscripts by 100 Masters, from John Donne to Julia Alvarez.” A writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, Alvarez and her husband, Bill Eichner, established Alta Gracia, an organic coffee farm–literacy arts center, in her homeland, the Dominican Republic.
- Middlebury, Vermont
- Date of Birth:
- March 27, 1950
- Place of Birth:
- New York, New York
- B.A., Middlebury College, 1971; M.F.A., Syracuse University, 1975
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Alvarez writes with a kindness and wit that combined, make for a very nice read. Definitely a feel-gooder
Julia Alvarez lays it all out for those of us who love her writing...She is true to life and inspirational...