I have been grumpy, depressed, and out of sorts for days now, so for tonight’s music selection I went looking for something fun … no other criteria … no need for a song of social conscience, a song about love or lost love … just something to make the toes tap and lift the spirits, if only for 2 minutes and 45 seconds. This one, an oldie from my youth, came to mind and I settled on it, thinking of it as a fun song. Little did I know the meaning behind the song 🙄
Released in 1966, this was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, a songwriting team who came up with many songs for the Monkees. They also wrote songs for Chubby Checker and Jay & the Americans.
Boyce and Hart wrote this as a protest to the Vietnam War. They had to keep this quiet in…
Having grown-up in a working class background, Sherrie Miranda critically understands that experience, thus making it the background from which emerges Shelly. She is the main character of Miranda’s last novel, Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans. There, we follow Shelly – freshly arrived in New Orleans from Rochester. She has come with the prospect of being awarded a photographer’s post in civil war torn El Salvador. Another reason for the move is Shelley’s desire to distance herself from family and home. This new found freedom allows Shelly to discover new inner voices as her life unfolds on many fronts. This process will be present throughout the novel. We find coherence to these multiple selves as we further our reading.
The coveted award is not certain, our main character will be competing with other photographers – if successful, Shelly will direct her camera lens to witness the life of the people in the midst of El Salvador’s civil war. At some point in the story we are made aware that in her study of photography, she learned how to achieve balance in a picture with positive and negative space. A definition of the latter concept helped this writer appreciate how its application educates the reading of the novel:
Space, both positive and negative, ties your design together. The intelligent usage of space draws the eye away from focus on negative or positive, and instead uses both to tell a harmonious, coherent, complete — seamless — story.
Transposed to the novel, this insight applies to the characters as well as events – the negative space, together with the narrative – the positive space, produce a coherent story. Miranda, herself a photographer, rendered inherent all these elements in her novel.
The story would not be as enticing if the author’s expert knowledge of the circumstances she brings forth in the novel would not inform the reader with historical elements – the FBI and other secret services’ undermining of the revolutionary movements in Central America. During the 1980’s, the time during which these wars were fought, the US was training paramilitary groups in support of campaigns of terror exacted on the civilian population. These facts brought to the page as textbook lessons might have been tedious. However, Miranda weaves the necessary background details in and out of the dialogue and stirs the latter with such virtuosity, that it lends to the issues an immediate relevance and urgency. Not only does it add a formidable dynamic to the novel, it also keeps the reader on their toes.
The story engages the reader in a deconstruction of the events and their impact on her main character. Based on historical events, the novel’s narrative weaves in its fabric, documentary facts which impart the story with veracity and a legitimate socio/political reality. Historical facts invite the reader’s imagination to an analytical inquiry, which is not defused by the fantasy of fiction.
Sherrie Miranda’s talent is best illustrated with her mastery of the dialogue. Throughout the novel many voices converse, and sometimes confront each other, or themselves. The reader is allowed to enter Shelly’s mind, revealing her most intimate thoughts. Shelly never leaves us; she stays faithful to her readers as she never speaks to others without letting us know what she thinks. We grow intimate with her; becoming her confident. As we pursue our reading we are made to listen to the subscript – her inner thoughts.
It is important to remark that Shelly does not address the reader as if making a confession. In keeping us so close, we become witnesses in her life. Early in the novel we learn of Shelly’s rape. The event as recalled by the protagonist is brought about devoid of gravity. The details coming through later on, reveal the violence of the assault; we are left to infer its consequential traumas. And if we do not, further scenes in the novel reveal the rage it has caused Shelly. A rage which fuels her uncompromising resistance to oppression.
The rape happened, and nothing since then has been the same. A baggage, which together with many other unresolved issues, weighs since then more heavily, on the already anxious life prodding the character of Shelly. Its reference throughout the novel reveals the guilt, the shame, and the self-accusatory statements; none of those are an expression of Shelly’s inability to process “the rape,” her voice only amplifies that of a whole society in denial of its own responsibility. For Shelly this social mass includes her family. She remains the only one – in not abandoning herself, she keeps vigil over her own body. Thus awakened nights – unable to sleep. We come to be educated little at a time about the indelible marks it leaves on the victim. It’s a garment on Shelly’s skin – the one she should have worn or should not have worn; “I should have worn pants.” I didn’t wear a slip.
We, the readers, are at Shelly’s sides when she refuses to wear a skirt to better fit the image of a waitress – the men wear the pants.And we know; she was wearing a dress when she got raped. Though she blames herself for it, I shouldn’t have worn a dress, her consciousness has grown in knowing what the skirt portrays in the stereotype apparel making of a “girl.” Shelly’s reflections, those she addresses to the reader, buttress her self-awareness, and ours.
However earlier in the novel, the reader is faced with a moral conundrum, Shelly doubles down in accusing herself. “I blame myself. But maybe it’s what I needed…. to get me to move my lazy ass out of this place.” Because we want to read the contrary, and the contrary might be what the author wanted us to read on our parkour through her novel. The agency Shelly has mustered to start this journey was a motivator to a new way of acting. The sequence is reversed. As in a literal revolution. Dreaming a path to a new life is what motivates Shelly to rebel and subvert authority. She will not give her authorization to the wearing of a skirt. Not a victim of forces beyond her control. Now bringing the force under her control. Miranda however is a writer – her pen is not didactic. No explanation is needed. The reader is given a free rein to draw their own perspective.
Miranda brings to bear her experience in growing up, and the working class values she was bound to honor. Those are put to the test as Shelly affronts the hardship of looking for a job with resilience, and wisdom. She will not compromise her dignity, as she will mount a tremendous amount of resistance at the threat to the latter. She loses her job, ready to sacrifice her means of subsistence to save her pride. Her life so far has been tough, she might not have as yet worn their badge, but she is no debutante on that new stage as a revolutionary actor. Yet at times her working class background reveals a rigidity which righteousness puts her at odds with what she is made to hear. Victor with whom Shelly develops an ambiguous relationship at some point exclaims, “We, Central Americans are all liars, I am a liar” “the war, the poverty, and the repression, we have to lie. All the time.” Paradoxically, later on that evening she will find solace in the same roots, those attachments between labor and land – her family history. She turns to what she learned at home remembering stories she heard from her dad, “…how his mom would tell “stories” to the bill collector” so they would not lose their farm.
What makes the novel stand apart from vulgar fiction is not only that the author’s experience which serves the rendering of a context with authenticity. But more profoundly, Shelly’s experiences feed a passion that the writer skillfully brings to the page.
Shelly, the photographer, comments on events with the clarity of the camera. The narrative takes us at some point in the dark sordid waterholes of New Orleans where the villains are, this time, the long time settled in the US, immigrants victims of another period of colonialist rule on another continent. The bitterness of their struggle against the English in India, feeds their anger, which they only know how to deflect by exacting revenge. Thus enslaving the progeny of those who enslaved them. With those chapters, the novel takes a fantastic turn. A dystopian adventure which derails the balance of the novel up till then faithful to an immediately graspable realism.
Those chapters deliver a redemption of the main character who because she benefits from the privileges accorded to her white status, must “naturally” also pay for those with an act of glory. It’s a setback in the novel. Shelly is now cloaked in the myth of the White as a liberator of the enslaved. Was that necessary, we wonder. It relegates Shelly to another time, today a distant past; a period hero. She regresses in the role of the Good White who allied with the good police saves the White child from the claws of the evil black man.
Apart from the parenthesis created around that romantic hero, Shelly has been fierce in the use of her privilege as a shield — she is white and young. Her resistance to her boss insisted on her wearing a skirt. She will find another job. Her right out alliance with her neighbours; she hardly can afford the clothes she buys them, but she has more resources. At some point, Shelly uses her foreigner status as a camouflage. Thus pretending not to understand the soldiers’ harassing questions as she steps on the Salvadorian country soil. She uses her privilege as an English speaker to subvert an illegitimate authority. She chooses not to understand their questions. They let her go.
A strong point of Miranda’s writing is her acute focus on the language in translation. She leads interesting inquiries in the centrality of context in giving meaning to language. We are reminded of Paolo Freire who made the context the meaningful center of his theory of critical pedagogy, later on put to practice as the structure of literacy campaigns in Brazil, Nicaragua, etc. Miranda helps us in seeing that language is not neutral, but more so carries the meaning of a contextual reality. Language is not bound to a dictionary edited by the White Academy. In a conversation with Victor, she first uses the word “disappear” in the conventional dictionary definition, however she is quick to remind herself that the conflict of war has shaped the meaning of the word disappear, “I forgot that in Latin America, that word means people who the military pick up, and you never see them again.”Toward the end of the novel Shelley asks Keisha, her ex-student now a friend, “What is the worst to bear: Racism, Sexism or Poverty?” And for Keisha to answer, “I don’t know, because I am all three.” Keisha, does not hide but identifies those 3 spears in her identity, as black, a woman, and poor. In her novel, Miranda tackles the intersectionality of those social markers, focusing the lens of her camera on Shelly’s personal history which in no moments is let to die in oblivion. That history serves as the testimony of what has propelled Shelly to dream and shape her dedication to the revolution. Finding in herself a voice of resistance, and the power to subvert authority – thus discovering her own.
“Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” follows the dramatic story of naive, sheltered Shelly going to “The Big Easy” to prepare for El Salvador, but has no idea she will encounter sexism and witness racism as well as illegal activities by government agents. https://www.amzn.com/dp/B08KMHNNDK
Author, Sherrie Miranda’s husband made the trailer for “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans.” He wrote the music too. https://youtu.be/7_NL-V9KEi4
Review: Shelly’s journey in “the city that care forgot.”Sherrie Miranda’s new novel “Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans” puts the reader into a whirlwind of political protests, abusive police, sexist attitudes towards women, and “good old boys” racism in 1980’s New Orleans. Miranda’s second novel follows Shelly, the young northerner, as she quickly finds out that she “isn’t in Kansas anymore” while encountering a slew of picturesque, colorful characters. Reading her book makes you wonder if justice and respect for blacks, immigrants, and women can be reality in America.
When you finish reading CIINO, check out SLIES:
Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4y
On this day 47 years ago at Kent State University in Ohio, four students were killed and nine others wounded when armed members of the National Guard opened fire on a crowd of protestors. The students had organized to protest President Richard Nixon’s announcement that the U.S. would invade Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War.
The Kent State shootings caused further protests nationwide, inspiring many young people to get involved in activism. The incident became a benchmark in American history that brought young people to action and launched a generation into activism. Here are a few things you should know about the incident.
Protests had been going on for a few days.
A chronology of the week’s events from the Kent State University library details the confusion both on campus and in the city of Kent just before the incident. President Nixon made his announcement about the “Cambodian Incursion” on April 30. Students rallied on May 1 and planned another rally for May 4. The evening of May 1, vandals damaged buildings in town, breaking windows. According to the [library chronology], the mayor of Kent “heard rumors of a radical plot, declared a state of emergency, and telephoned the governor in Columbus for assistance.” Bars were closed, and those in the street were tear-gassed by riot police. On May 2, the mayor made the decision to call in the National Guard after hearing about threats to local businesses and rumors of radical protestors trying to destroy the city. That evening, there was a large demonstration happening on campus, and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) building was set on fire. Another demonstration on campus occurred on May 3, where tear gas was fired. And the protesting continued on May 4, resulting in deadly violence.
It’s not totally clear why the guardsmen opened fire in the first place.
The students protesting were unarmed, but 28 guardsmen opened fire on the crowd. They fired between 61 and 67 shots in just 13 seconds.
Two of the students killed were protesting, and two were bystanders who were walking from one class to the next.
The victims were all white. They were Jeffrey Miller and Sandra Scheuer, both 20, and Allison Krause and William Schroeder, both 19.
The shootings caused even more protests.
NPR reported that colleges and universities across the U.S. were forced to close when the shootings triggered a nationwide student strike. Historians estimate that about 4 million students went on strike, causing 800 institutions to close.
And tragically, students at another university were shot and killed just days later.
On May 15, 1970, police confronted a group of African-American students protesting at Jackson State College (now Jackson State University) in Jackson, Mississippi. Apparently, students had been throwing rocks at white motorists driving through campus, and tension heightened when a false rumor spread that a local politician and civil rights activist, Charles Evers, had been killed. Police fired more than 150 rounds into the crowd, killing 21-year-old Phillip Gibbs and 17-year-old James Earl Green. Twelve other students were injured.
People credit the Kent State shootings with waking them up, in the same way police violence sparks protests and rallies today.
“Up until that incident, I had been a pretty conventional young person,” one woman told NPR. “I was 20. But when I saw my government killing innocent students who were just walking to class, I was radicalized, totally radicalized. From that day forward, I began to immerse myself in national and international news and politics and have never since allowed myself to be so ignorant of what’s going on as I was before that day.”
Michael wrote back & said he was not offended & explained some of his reasons behind his choices. A critique can help the critiqued, but can also help the writer of the critique & anyone else who reads it. Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador: http://tinyurl.com/klxbt4yHer husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P11Ch5chkAc
Michael, The idea for this story is fascinating, but you have a style of storytelling that may put most agents and publishers off.
I must be honest & say I have never read anything like this. I was very confused about the time and place. First I thought it was the 1800s, then early 1900s, then I saw Pope Francis mentioned and realized it was the present day. The language reminded me of Science Fiction which I personally am not a fan of (though my husband loves it). Are you fluent in another language? Because there were things that I have never seen done before in writing. You often leave out “the,” “her,” “to” and “a.” Is this a stylistic choice? Have you had any study in the “Tell vs. Show” that is so commonly taught in today’s literature/writing courses? “Indescribably excited” would be much better shown than told. For example, you might SHOW them jumping up & down, as well as other physical ways to show how the girls feel. I was confused by the phrase “physically divided age group.” “Peer group” is a much more common phrase used in modern day English. I also found the phrase “following application of own embrace.” Did you simply mean “Hugged”? The simpler the language, the better IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A PUBLISHER. The women from the literature discussed were totally unknown to me. But I must be honest: despite my 62 years, I am a totally contemporary woman. I seriously suggest finding a critique group. If you can’t find one near you, find one online. As writers, we need feedback from several people. Then we can consider what they say and decide if we will heed any of their advice. Or decide “screw them,” I’m going to continue doing this my way. How many drafts have you written? Joyce Carol Oates, the most prolific contemporary American writer, says she writes seven drafts. Something to consider. I wish I could be of more help to you, but I read and write in a very straightforward and modern style. I don’t think I can do you justice critiquing your work.
Donald Trump ran for President promising to “Make America Great Again.” Personally, I think he is off to a great start. Why? Because if his presidency has done one thing, it’s that people have become AWARE and ACTIVE like never before. Complacency is no longer the standard when it comes to how people perceive our government and those who represent us. We are all becoming more informed and involved, especially with issues that relate to our lives and our families.
The day after his inauguration, the Women’s March became the largest worldwide march in history. Donald Trump woke up the women of the world and we are just beginning to feel the effects. The march centered on issues such as equal pay, equal opportunity, and a woman’s right to make decisions relating to her health and body. Women coming forward and speaking out are now bringing focus to their treatment in the work place. Men in power in Hollywood, corporate America, and the halls of the Senate and Congress are learning sexual harassment and discrimination have no place anywhere in America.
The travel ban, attempts to end DACA, Black Lives Matter, and white supremacists galvanized and united other sectors of the population. Limiting an individual’s liberty and freedom based on the color of their skin or the God they worship is not something the American people are willing to sit back and accept. Our Constitution, the 15th and 19th amendments, the Civil War, and civil rights legislation of the 1960’s prove removing prejudice and discrimination are ongoing struggles.
I believe this time is different. So many groups are feeling threatened by pending legislation and recent passed legislation. All of us are affected in some way. We have become “AWARE.” If we are going to protect our values, our beliefs, and our money, now is the time to pay attention. We have also become “ACTIVE.” In addition to the Women’s March, we are marching and protesting to protect health care. Our representatives are being contacted in record numbers to express our opinions. We are marching for or against gun control, removing Confederate statues, and tax reform. Citizens that are aware and active are the ones who drive change.
Unfortunately change is not always easy to accept. When the change threatens religious or cultural beliefs, the very existence of the group is threatened. Our democracy ensures there is room for all religions, all cultures, and all ideas. We are at a point in history where our political leadership sees change on the horizon. Our congressional leaders exist on the polarization of the population. It appears they are now working to divide us rather than unite us.
Our people are what makes America great. We are diverse in color, culture, religion, education, sexual orientation, motivation, and desires. Our success as a country is built upon our ACCEPTANCE of our differences rather than our ability to silent dissent. I was moved when a Muslim group helped restore a vandalized Jewish cemetery. Traditional enemies are showing respect for the others heritage. We as individuals will end the polarization. Love and respect cannot be legislated.
Today the news is reporting the inappropriate treatment of women by men in power. We all know that most men have the physical power to dominate and control women. Treatment of women is a worldwide issue and it has been since the beginning of time. I’m confident the time of change is here. Women’s issues will dominate the headlines. Awareness will activate the changes that improve life for all of us.
No time in history has seen the potential for change we now have before us. A united population, knowledgeable of the issues, and active participation, can control the direction of our change. Don’t sit on the side lines. Contact your representatives and tell them how you feel about important issues. Make them represent YOU and your family, not kowtow to the party line. Get busy and we will Make America Greater.
~ Michael Rice is a broker from Mt. Laguna
Please contact me if you have an article you’d like me to share. Sorry, but the alternative view is seen enough; that won’t be posted here! 😉 ❤
Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” will be out en Español soon. It’s about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
I’m finally back to working on the prequel to my debut novel. “Crimes & Impunity in New Orleans” takes place during the Reagan era (including 1984!). Shelly goes to NOLA to prepare for her trip to El Salvador, but she has no idea that a place in the U.S. can be so completely different from her world in Upstate New York. She encounters sexism, police brutality, and sees the effects of racism first hand. Her Salvadoran friend is visited by the FBI & the Cubans in New Orleans threaten the lives of protesters & even call the homes of organizers. Shelly’s time in New Orleans makes her want to go back to her safe, little life in Hilton, NY.
If you can buy the book ahead of time, it will help me pay for editing, formatting & uploading. As you can see above, the cover is already made.
Learn the story behind “Publish Crimes and Impunity in New Orleans.” and help us meet our goal. @indiegogo