From Publishers Weekly
The wisecracking, bicultural/bilingual, self-deprecating, post-Valley Girl author of Chicana Falsa once again serves up a slice of her own life, this time focusing on the lessons she has learned about being a writer and de facto role model. Chronicling the experiences and responsibilities of semisuccessful Chicana poet and writer "Michele Serros," the book is divided into a series of The House on Mango Street-style vignettes, each titled with a numbered "role model rule," like "Seek Support from Sistas" and "Honor Thy Late-Night Phone Calls from Abuelita." Sandwiched between these stories are thematic riffsAan ongoing debate with a conference organizer over an honorarium that was never paid, or correspondence with teacher fans who want to correct the fictional Serros's English or her Spanish. "Let's Go Mexico," one of the longer stories, is a humorous take on immersion language classes set in a tourist town outside of Mexico City. For all of Serros's witAand she can be absolutely hilariousAthere is a darker side to her humor. The fictional Serros moves from menial job to menial job. She recognizes that like her father (a "brown ghost" to his Anglo co-workers), she is too often either invisible or assumed to be a maid, and that Latinos can be as prejudiced as whites. She takes several swipes at academics and critics who assume that one Latina writer is much like another. She comes down especially hard on anyone who doubts her talent: "To my family, writing was not important. Writing was somewhat selfish. Writing was just plain rude." Though this outing lacks some of the fizz of Chicana Falsa, Serros turns out a funny yet poignant defense of her craft. 4-city author tour. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Serros (Chicana Falsa, not reviewed) offers an unusual second fiction, a work that defies single classification. The story of Michele Serros, it's a sly, hyperkinetic romp that's part story collection, part stand-up comedy, part self-help for aspiring writers.Instead of chapters, Serros supplies the reader with 13 rules that could have come under the heading I Didn't Know It Would Be This Way. Serros's road to UCLA and publication is pockmarked with misconceptions, some hilarious, others sad. Asked to attend a Chicana writers' conference, she arrives to discover that she's been hired to serve food, not read her poetry. But this energetic young woman doesn't let the croissants or an apron stop her from reading at open mike, after which a small-press publisher offers his card, prints her book, then leaves her with boxes of copies to hawk on her own. No matter what she does, Serros is alternately confused and amused by the contradictions around her. She's hired to model for an artist because of her Mexican nose, the one feature she dislikes most in herself. Fellow Latinos and Latinas frown upon her for not speaking Spanish well, yet she receives instructions from a fan urging her to be more universal by dropping the Spanish from her work. Even her friend Martha Reyes tells her to make yourself less Mexican, less girl in trying to insure Serros a reading public. The best rule, however, comes from Aunt Tura: If you want a real story, you need to look in your own backyard more often. Indeed, only when Serros creates vivid family scenes are we drawn effortlessly into a world she cares about. Once her defensive guard is down, her gift for dialogue emerges, along with that rare ability to move readers toward complexity of emotion and thought--the things that make this not quite accomplished yet exciting new fiction distinctive.An interesting--and maybe even a promising--start -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.