Copyright © 2015 by Cynthia Buchanan Cowley
"WELCOME TO AMEXICA"! Time magazine cover screamed it. Did you see it? No?
Okay, heads up: 51,000,000 Hispanics out there and they're coming to your classroom.
And nobody articulates multiculture along the South Texas border with more originality, for example, than Cynthia Buchanan--Novelist. Essayist. Playwright.
This professional writer and her Comadre Productions & Consulting know that America is a whole new nation now.
So--fresh out of the Texas-Mexico borderlands comes Buchanan's state-of-the art fiction at 6,300 words.
Check it out.
Your brain on her creative writing.
"The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz"
"A multicultural Latino love story from South Texas borderlands, where immigrants reap magical realism because Mexico, Poland and Germany gave us great folklore."
The 30-page manuscript introduced by graphic art includes as Study Guide the author's 3,000-word critical essay. The essay is embedded with probing questions to develop critical thinking and the global morality that literature can impart.
For value added to this whole unit, Buchanan provides a Latina professor's testimonial as to the success of this story she teaches in more than one university course.
Cynthia Buchanan's imaginative "The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz." Read it, love it, teach it, you got it.
• Grade level: Higher Education, Staff, Adult
• Programs: Humanities; Foreign Language and Literature
• Courses: English, American Literature, Creative Writing, Multiculture, Hispanic Studies, Mexican Cultural History, Borderlands, Postcolonial Societies, New Spain, Spanish Language and Literature
Part One: The short story: 6,300 words
Part Two: Study Guide as author's critical essay with questions: 3,000 words
Part Three: Study Guide as Latina professor's testimonial: 300 words
Part One of this curriculum is the story itself. "The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz" merges immigrants, nineteenth century cattle drives and a world-class pianist with whom a borderlands Latina falls in love. A narrative device of time travel brings into the mix a twenty-first century antiquarian swollen with comic greed.
The narrative includes Mexican proverbs and Spanish phrases plus a sprinkling of German, Polish, French and Italian words, lending prosody and music to this adventure in creative writing.
Part Two is the Study Guide's critical essay written by the author: "From Chopin to the Chupacabra, Neurotic Love in the Borderlands: In 'Melting Pot' America, Is Hell Hot Enough to Melt a Cold Heart?"
Buchanan's penetrating essay is rich with literary references. Consider the nineteenth century's corseted Victorian values and fin de siècle Catholic restraints of the time-warped Hispanic heroine on the Texas border. Then leap to twenty-first century Dallas and compare a predatory female's urban sexuality in the brilliant noir fiction of Ben Fountain, only one of multiple sources to enhance Buchanan's critical look at "The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz."
Part Three--more Study Guide--is the single page testimony by Rio Grande Valley native, Cordelia Barrera. Her Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio has a Latino/a Literature focus and one of her fields is U.S. border theory. She teaches at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
"The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz" delivers on its promise. It inspires enthusiasm and joyful creative activities. "El que anda entre la miel algo se le pega," they say in Mexico.
Overview and Teaching Tips
1. Riveting fiction, "The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz" is all about swapping souls on the TexMex Border. As in, "Give me your tired immigrants."
2. A postmodern original, this bold new tale puts a literary spin on the medieval motif from Germany, "the dance with the Devil." Think: Goethe's Faust. Or Stephen Vincent Benet's classic American short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster."
3. Hollywood might pitch "The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz" as "Dante's Inferno meets True Grit."
4. What of the lively testimonial from the Latina Ph.D., Cordelia Barrera, teaching the story in her folklore unit? Why did her class respond with excitement and critical engagement, researching aspects from the border's' mélange of immigrants plus the Texas Rangers and even cattle kings of the Panhandle? (Here historic ranches meet Coronado's Trail. The story's nineteenth century trail drives could suggest class work as to Spanish conquistadores who rode across the Llano Estacado.)
5. For more cross-culture turbo, buddy up with a German language teacher for interdepartmental dynamics. Cynthia Buchanan had "The Devil & Duda Pietrowicz" translated into German by a major linguist born in Berlin, Dr. Wolfgang Soldan. "Der Teufel & Duda Pietrowicz" is available upon request. No faltaría más, as they say in Spain.
Copyright © 2015 by Cynthia Buchanan Cowley – All Rights Reserved. Author represented by Attorney Emilio B. Nicolas at Jackson Walker L.L.P. www.jw.com • Austin • San Antonio • Houston • Fort Worth • San Angelo
Novelist and playwright Cynthia Buchanan earned an M.A. in Creative Writing in English from the University of the Americas in Mexico and was awarded a Fulbright grant in Creative Writing in Spain, under the U.S. State Department. After many years in New York as a professional writer, she returned to her roots in the Spanish Southwest.
She now lives in Texas, where she has completed several short stories, a new play and two new novels. Cowgirl Polygamy is set in Arizona, while The Scarlet Spaniard follows an Andalusian guerrilla after the Spanish Civil War. Currently, she's at work on a Latino graphic novel, Aztec Eagles of World War II: Mexico's Heroes, America's Brothers. (www.aztecagles.net)
Her fiction, nonfiction and literary criticism has been published widely, from The New York Times, The Washington Post and Newsweek to such diverse literary quarterlies as Harvard Advocate, Cornell Review and Transatlantic Review.
Buchanan's first novel Maiden burst upon the literary scene in 1972, published to sensational reviews. Critics celebrated it as a "brilliant comic satire" and its author as a superb storyteller, "a powerful voice" whose prose style was stunning. Maiden was called "hilarious" and powerful "social satire," a penetrating and original commentary on the deadly life of the American dream. Its heroine on her mythic quest is considered one of the great heroines in contemporary literature and Maiden remains today one of the most highly reviewed first novels in publishing history.
Listed among "best" titles by The New York Times Book Review and the American Library Association, the book was acclaimed by the Encyclopedia Britannica as a premier novel that compared with the works of Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, Joan Didion and Sylvia Plath.
Maiden was taught as an American classic at Harvard, Dartmouth, New York University, University of California at Los Angles and at Iowa Writers' Workshop, among others.
Columbia Pictures bought Maiden film rights through an option by Lily Tomlin, who then commissioned Buchanan to write for her. Buchanan created such Tomlin characters as "Sister Boogie Woman," "Crystal the Quadriplegic" and "Susie Sorority" for the comedienne's tours and Broadway show. As well, Lily Tomlin starred in Buchanan's play at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., under a National Endowment for the Humanities grant for new American playwrights.