Ever since leaving your fine city and your excellent Reading Together program events, my wife and I have been talking about you. To each other. To bookstores. To other writers. We hold you up as a model to other all-city read programs. No question Kalamazoo does it right.
It's a rare and wonderful thing for an author to share his work with such a cross-section of a community as I did with Kalamazoo. To be able to meet with readers is always grand, but to be welcomed as a friend by so many, across such different platforms was an incredible experience. I know you appreciate the amazing work of your librarians and the Reading Together committee that made it all possible because you were so warm and responsive. We never ran out of things to talk about! I was only disappointed to not be able to attend ALL the events.
I was especially touched by the artwork done by the high school students and showcased in your spectacular library. I will be posting pictures of some of that work. As an artist, to inspire other artists is a dream come true. It also meant so much to me to have the support of my friend (and your own literary heroine) Bonnie Jo Campbell. A special thanks to you for inviting her to be involved with your program. That shows a great literary commitment all the way through your community.
I was especially heartened by the fact that you forged a bond with Kankakee, IL. I think the the future is being written by towns like Kankakee and Kalamazoo and I am so honored that my novel could play a part.
On a personal note, I just have to say that your librarians and staff people were spectacular. I enjoyed every minute of your company. I deeply appreciated your generosity and I have to say doing an event in front of a few hundred kindergartners was probably the coolest tour experience of the last year!
Thank you to Karen Santamaria and everyone on the Reading Together committee. Thank you for selecting my novel Into the Beautiful North, thank you for reading, and most of all, thank you for your friendship and support. Hope to see you again soon!
Luis Alberto Urrea
P.S. Oh yeah, best donuts we ever had, too!
Luis Alberto Urrea at Kalamazoo Public Library
As one who hasn't watched many classic Westerns, I didn't have set expectations about Friday’s screening of the 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum’s Stryker Theater. However, from the first strains of the iconic soundtrack’s main theme, I was 100 percent on board with the story and soon, understood how the movie inspired the characters of Into the Beautiful North.
The film’s simple storyline is captivating, but add to it Yul Brynner’s unflinching gaze, stage presence and solid stature buttoned into his close-cut black denim-and-leather western wear, I understood Aunt Irma’s infatuation with “Mexico’s greatest film star.” Steve McQueen held his own with his sapphire blue eyes, confident wily smile and social-justice motivations.
For me, viewing the film after reading Into the Beautiful North added to my enjoyment of both film and novel. I recommend this PG-rated film to anyone looking for an escapist classic Western adventure, but especially to those who have read Into the Beautiful North. Check your library’s catalog for the DVD of The Magnificent Seven and invite a friend over to watch it.
~ Jim Ratliff, Librarian, Arcadia Commons Campus Kalamazoo Valley Community College
If you were not able to attend Luis Urrea’s presentation last week, you missed a wonderfully engaging evening of storytelling and music provided by Kalamazoo’s own Los Bandits de Michigan. Fear not, however. Thanks to our friends at Public Media Network, we are pleased to offer four opportunities to watch the rebroadcast of the evening on channel 95. Here is the schedule:
- Tuesday, March 13 7 pm
- Wednesday, March 14 1 pm
- Monday, March 19 9 pm
- Thursday, March 22 7 pm
Whether or not you’ve read Into the Beautiful North, you are bound to enjoy Urrea’s easy-going manner and his humorous yet poignant remarks. In fact, if you’re like many people I’ve spoken to since, chances are you’ll be inspired to check out several of his award-winning titles.
Luis Urrea in Kalamazoo