Monday, November 11, 2013

Albuquerque again

So this week's book "The Block Captain's Daughter" by Demetria Martinez was only the second book to really be set in Albuquerque. We have had other New Mexico settings including Corralas and Sante Fe, and Butterfly Kisses had a little bit about Albuquerque, but it was not the primary setting. Albuquerque has only been the primary setting for these last two books. Last week we had a discussion post where some of us talked about "our Albuquerque" based on the discussion about "My Town". We have now seen another version of Albuquerque from this weeks author. I would like to hear from you if this weeks book changed your version of Albuquerque at all and in what way. I would also like to hear if anyone noticed major similarities or differences between the two author versions or your version of Albuquerque.


  1. Well I guess one difference between the two authors is that one grew up here as a white girl, while the other grew up as a Chicana. Both ended up being well-traveled writers/activists who had to fight for their rights in court for one reason or another, but they grew up with very different perspectives of Albuquerque. Whereas Ms. Martinez sought strength in community and grew up hearing Spanish, Ms. Randall sought peace in being alone in nature, and grew up hearing and seeing her parents and neighbors keep out her non-white friend when she needed a place to stay.
    Between the two books, My Town influenced my view of Albuquerque more, and that's at least partly because it was in fact a memoir, and included pictures and histories of the Albuquerque that existed before I was born.
    I don't feel that "The Block Captain's Daughter" really changed my perspective of Albuquerque much, and that could be because it's hard for me to identify very deeply with the characters. I've never been an activist, and I also don't have the same sense of heritage and roots as Lupe, Maritza, etc. My roots are overseas, mainly in Ireland, Germany, and Poland, and maybe because they're so far away, I've never had any inner conflict about honoring my heritage. I think that if I did have some ancestors here, in New Mexico or nearby, that I would probably feel those "roots" more intensely, like the characters in "Block Captain's Daughter."

  2. I don’t think my perception of Albuquerque was changed, instead it was reinforced. My opinions and feelings of Albuquerque only grew with My Town and Block Captain’s Daughter.

    Like I’ve said, I am use to seeing Albuquerque through Central on the bus. I see the homeless people trying to gather change for the bus, the drunken people cruising around without a real destination, and the old run down hotels lining the streets. That was partially covered in My Town. I saw a lot of the Albuquerque I know in My Town so I think that is why I feel that my feelings towards this beautiful city were validated in those poems.

    I know there is a lot of diversity here in Albuquerque. I feel like people here are very accepting of people of different backgrounds and ways of living. In Block Captains Daughter, all the characters are friends. They are all from different backgrounds and different life styles. One of them was an illegal immigrant, and then we have a lesbian couple, and construction worker. This circle of friends is possible here. I don’t think you would see this group of friends eating at a restaurant in, say, North Carolina. We, those who live here in Albuquerque, are really in a unique position to be able to have these kinds of friends around us. Diversity is a big part of Albuquerque and although I was aware of that before I read the book, I think my perception of that was only deepened.

    Like Emma said, the difference is that one is white and the other is Chicana. I think this shaped their way of writing but they still see life a little similar since they both grew up in Albuquerque. They both call New Mexico home.

  3. I wouldn't say my view of Albuquerque has changed in any way. I love this city the way it is through my eyes, and the way it's portrayed through these two books seems "too" real. To me, it feels more antiquated and a little dull. And perhaps even a little "too" chicano. It's as if the authors are trying to prove a point that has not only been repeatedly proven; we're living in the middle of it. Granted, we're not the only ones who read these books, but personally I can't stand when the prose tries a little bit harder to make the readers understand a way of speaking that is more common than not.

    In any case, regardless of my opinion, Albuquerque is a beautiful city worthy of being made as the setting of any story. We live in a breathing, living, culturally unique character. It's a great thing to know that ABQ is not known for just sand and casinos! And the way both authors have captured their personal experience of ABQ on paper is something to be admired, because writing about a place (as we explored a couple weeks ago) is much harder than others think.

  4. Margaret Randall's book did influence how I see Albuquerque somewhat. Her book has a historical perspective of Albuquerque that I've never really thought about before. I really LOVED her book for that reason. I liked the pictures, and I liked her stories about some of the different things around town that I see all the time. For example, she talked about De Anza, and I see it when I drive down Central every day. It was just an old building that was closed to me, but now I see it has an interesting history.

    "The Block Captain's Daughter," in contrast, did not change how I see Albuquerque. It was a lot of what I am already familiar with, such as the Frontier. I did not get anything new from it.

    I love hearing about the history of Albuquerque. Reading Margaret Randall's book reminded me of going to Tulsa with my parents. My parents are both from Tulsa, so whenever we go they'll point out buildings and other stuff and tell little stories about them, and reading her book was like that. It was very interesting for me.


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