Tag Archives: Luis Alberto Urrea

More ZYZZYVA in the Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays 2013

We announced here earlier in the year the inclusion of two ZYZZYVA pieces in the forthcoming Best American Essays and Best American Short Stories: respectively, Dagoberto Gilb‘s “A Little Bit of Fun Before He Died” (Issue No. 95, Fall 2012) and Karl Taro Greenfeld‘s “Horned Men” (also Issue No. 95). Today we learned ZYZZYVA made the Notable lists for both prestigious anthologies, too. Ron Carlson‘s story “Line From a Movie” (Issue No. 96, Winter 2012) won recognition in BASS, and two nonfiction works were similarly recognized in Best American Essays: Rick Barot‘s “Morandi Sonnet” (No. 96) and Luis Alberto Urrea‘s …Continue reading

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The Mr. Smith Syndrome

Luis Alberto Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of fourteen books, including his most recent, the novel Queen of America (Little, Brown.) He is the winner of numerous awards for his poetry, fiction and essays, as well as a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Urrea grew up in San Diego, and that experience of being Mexican American and living close to the border has informed his writing. In his essay in ZYZZYVA’s Fall issue, “The Mr. Smith Syndrome,” Urrea brings to life a job he had as a teenager: frying up donuts for a sketchy boss (“Cigarette smoke. Body odor. Bad breath.”).

There’s a spirit of resolve in the piece, an understanding of what you need to overcome to find, perhaps, a state of grace in this life. The following is the essay in its entirety. (Warning: You may never eat another old-fashioned again.)

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Luis Alberto Urrea and the Power of a Captivating Reading

Luis Alberto Urrea is an amazing writer. The beloved, multi-prize winning author of novels, nonfiction, and poetry, Urrea’s most recent book, Queen of America, is (as I wrote in a review that appeared in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle) “at once magical and corporeal, grounding and transporting. … The compelling true story of a young woman caught between worlds, between her childhood in Mexico and her adulthood in the United States, between the spiritual world and the material world.” But here I want to discuss Urrea’s reading, his ability to transfix an audience through the spoken word. The first time I …Continue reading

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