Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dirty Girls can write too

Is it just me, or do authors have an obsession with other authors?

I just finished reading two books by the author
Alisa Valdes - Rodriguez.

Rather, I read the New York Times Bestseller
The Dirty Girls Social Club for the first time when I was in high school. I was one of the cool kids who decided it'd be awesome to work as a page in the children's section of our local library. My job was to stack books & other multimedia, clean up after the children's toys, and help with programs that the librarians would put on for kiddies.

Sounds really cool, right?

Spending all that time in the library, I stumbled upon the showcase of New York Times Bestsellers which I had previously avoided like the plague. I thought most of the books looked extremely boring in the past but I decided to give this one a try.
Why you ask? Wouldn't you read a bright, colorful book with women drinking cocktails and the words 'Dirty Girls' on the cover? I had to see what it was about.

The Dirty Girls Social Club and Dirty Girls on Top are about 6 women who bonded as Latina Communications majors at Boston University. The stories are written as a collection of their memoirs 5 years and then 10 years after graduation. Both books are written from the perspective of each of the 6 different women who take turns sharing their lives with the reader. These Dirty Girls or Las Sucias as they call themselves meet several times a year to catch up on each other's personal lives and share in the successes of their professional careers.

I was so impressed by Valdes - Rodriguez's ability to share the thoughts of each Latina woman throughout the book while showcasing just how diverse they all are. The fact that they graduated from the same program in school and are Latina is really all they have in common.

Meet Las Sucias:

Lauren - columnist, Cuban/Caucasian
Usnavys - non-profit organization director, Puerto Rican/Dominican
Liz - news anchor, Columbian
Rebecca - magazine owner, Spanish
Sara - housewife/talk show host, Cuban (and Jewish)
Amber - singer/songwriter, Mexican

The fact that Valdes - Rodriguez writes about writers is just the obvious connection to her own background as a novelist and journalist who has written for the Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times. Like Las Sucias, she attended college in Boston and shares a similar familial background with her characters Lauren and Rebecca.

The best part about The Dirty Girls books, besides the sprinkling of Spanish (
te lo juro, I had to look up a few phrases throughout both books) and the dabble of sex that Valdes - Rodriguez adds into the memoir, is that the characters' journalistic endeavors are weaved into the book itself!

The first novel transitions from one Sucia's thoughts to the other after displaying excerpts from Lauren's column My Life. Cleverly, each excerpt relates in some way to what the women are recalling in their memoirs. The second novel, Dirty Girls on Top, includes some of Usnavys' blogs which give sexual advice to white men from a 'voluptuous' Latina woman's perspective. I must admit I had my reservations about reading the second book based on the title alone but it is a must read. It is even better than the first book.

I learned a lot from reading these books. The women talk about their different ethnicities and what it is like to be young Latina women in mainly literary businesses. They reflect on their interactions with Latino men. They also talk about the friendship that has developed between Las Sucias over the years.

I found that I could really relate to being a double minority in a male dominated field. Moreso, I could relate to their doubts and uncertainties that everyone faces during their adult lives.

I appreciated how even though Valdes - Rodriguez wrote chic lit stories that some would compare to a Candace Bushnell novel, these books are really about women who started off as writers in some sense. And their memoirs helped me to see that although the process might be painful to go through, writing everything down can be a very good start to pursuing a writer's dreams.

As I sip on my Pink Poetry Odwalla drink, I wonder how I am always drawn to things that are literary in nature. Like many writers, I guess you could say I have a fascination with other writers too.

If you would like to read one of Valdes - Rodriguez's dirty writing - obsessed books, check out her website: www.alisavaldesrodriguez.com.

Feel free to leave a comment, especially if you've read a writer obsessed with another writer's work lately.

Jessica Ebony

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... I think I'll read them now...not that I have time to read for fun right now... but then again... neither do you!! lol