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1 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

Something to Declare


Something to Declare Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Reading Julia Alvarez's new collection of essays is like curling up with a glass of wine in one hand and the phone in the other, listening to a big-hearted, wisecracking friend share hard-earned wisdom about family, identity, and the art of writing." —People

The rich and revealing essays in Something to Declare offer Julia Alvarez's dual meditations on coming to America and becoming a writer. In the first section, "Customs," Alvarez relates how she and her family fled the Dominican Republic and its oppressive dictator, Rafael Trujillo, settling in New York City in the 1960s. Here Julia begins a love affair with the English language under the tutelage of the aptly named Sister Maria Generosa. Part Two—"Declarations"—celebrates Alvarez's enduring passion for the writing life. From the valentine to mythic storyteller Scheherazade that is "First Muse," to a description of Alvarez's itinerant life as a struggling poet, teacher, and writer in "Have Typewriter, Will Travel," to the sage and witty advice of "Ten of My Writing Commandments," Alvarez generously shares her influences and inspirations with aspiring writers everywhere.


"This is the first collection of essays from the noted poet and novelist Julia Alvarez. Truth be told, I like her poems better: they are crisper, tighter, so often simply wonderful. These essays are autobiographical, airy and simple and sometimes a little flat. Many of the essays circle a primary concern for Alvarez: her sense of location and inheritance as part of her identity as a writer. Being an American novelist living in Vermont who has been pegged as an important Latino voice in contemporary literature, Alvarez is concerned to present herself more simply as a working, struggling writer. All the same, the voices of her family and the questions of her critics and readers keep bringing her back to the fundamental question of where she fits, of where her writing comes from, and what it can be called. The answer might best be found in her poems and novels, and left at that. These aren't bad essays, by any stretch. The writing, as one might expect, is fine, and many of the stories about her childhood are especially evocative. Particular fans of Alvarez's work will surely be interested in the autobiographical material, as will students of Latin American literature." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)


This first nonfiction work by this acclaimed novelist includes 24 personal essays on her writing life as well as her experience emigrating from the Dominican Republic.

About the Author

Julia Alvarez is the author of the novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies (a national Book Critics Circle Award finalist), and Yo!. She has also published two poetry collections (Homecoming and The Other side/El Otro Lado) and a collection of essays (Something to Declare).

Table of Contents

Something to Declare to My Readers

Part One: Customs

Grandfather's Blessing

Our Papers

My English

My Second Opera

I Want to Be Miss America

El Doctor

La Gringuita

Picky Eater

Briefly, a Gardener

Imagining Motherhood

A Genetics of Justice

Family Matters

Part Two: Declarations

First Muse

Of Maids and Other Muses

So Much Depends

Dona Aida, with Your Permission

Have Typewriter, Will Travel

A Vermont Writer from the Dominican Republic

Chasing the Butterflies

Goodbye, Ms. Chips

In the Name of the Novel

Ten of My Writing Commandments

Grounds for Fiction

Writing Matters

Product Details

Alvarez, Julia
New York
Ethnic Cultures
American literature (collections)
Women and literature
Dominican Republic
Dominican Americans
Dominican Americans in literature.
Ethnic Cultures - General
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Series Volume:
no. 97-647
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.05x5.29x.71 in. .57 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Latin American

Something to Declare Used Trade Paper
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Product details 320 pages Plume Books - English 9780452280670 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This first nonfiction work by this acclaimed novelist includes 24 personal essays on her writing life as well as her experience emigrating from the Dominican Republic.
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