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Love Made Visible: Reflections on Writing, Teaching, and Other Distractions Paperback – June 27, 2011
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About the Author
Silvio Sirias is the author of the novels Bernardo and the Virgin (Northwestern University Press, 2005) and the award-winning Meet Me under the Ceiba (Arte Público Press, 2009). He currently lives, teaches, and writes in Panama. For more information, visit his website at www.silviosirias.com
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It is the story of a Nicaraguan-American who, after ten years in the United States, was uprooted from his home in Los Angeles to return to Nicaragua at the age of eleven. Confused and awkward when trying to speak in Spanish, he was teased mercilessly by the boys in his class where he was the only "foreigner." But the young Silvio was undeterred. Taking advantage of his close-knit extended family, he studied his ancestral language at home with aunts and cousins as well as at school. Within a short time, his absorption of Spanish and his mastery not only of the local idiom but also of the subtleties of Ruben Dario and other authors, were to win him an award for outstanding student in Spanish literature at the end of the 8th grade. He writes:
"And there was one thing above all others that I knew, although not rationally, with every fiber of my being--an intuition so overwhelming that it became truth: life in Nicaragua seemed closer to being real, the country's history was more palpable, and the culture was easier to grasp and dissect than that of the United States. Because of the affirming immediacy of these childhood impressions, I became enamored of my parents' homeland."
When he turned eighteen, however, his parents decided that he needed to return to the United States to study at a good university. Once there, he was told by his freshman composition teacher that his writing in English was below average and that for him to try to continue in college would be useless. Fortunately, Serias ignored that advice and was ultimately to find an encouraging teacher of "business English" who helped him refine his latent skills. He went on to receive his Ph.D. in Spanish, and to write two well-received novels (in English) that celebrated his Nicaraguan roots and the tumultuous history of that war-torn country. In the process he has risen through the ranks of Latino writers to become one of the most highly regarded and, perhaps more importantly, one of the most widely loved.
This loose collection of essays is multi-faceted and eclectic. The topics include Central American food and culture, baseball, Latino literature, living and teaching abroad, as well as the author's brief encounters with actor Paul Newman and boxer Roberto Duran. For the aspiring writer, his chapter on advice to young students is especially valuable...and realistic. Among the twelve thoughtful "tips" backed up with cogent examples and specifics, we find: "#10 Acquire other ways to make a living." Even a critically-acclaimed novelist, it seems, needs a second income. Dr. Serias and his wife Erinn have worked as teachers in Central America for many years now, sharing their energy and gifts with young people, while he also continues the long journey down the road to literary permanence.