|From her website: "Cecile Pineda was born in New York City, migrating to California in 1961 where she has lived ever since in the San Francisco-Bay Area. She is the author of The Love Queen of the Amazon, written with the assistance of a National Endowment Fiction Fellowship and named Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times; Frieze, and Face which won the Gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California; the Sue Kaufman Prize awarded by the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters, and the American Book Award nomination for first fiction. Other works including Fishlight: A Dream of Childhood, a non-fiction memoir, Bardo99, and Redoubt, both mononovels, as well as her works of non-fiction, Devil’s Tango, Apology to a Whale, and Three Tides are all available from Independent Publishers Group."|
Author, playwright, director, mother, and blogger Cecile Pineda has passed into history
and I am one of legions who will miss her. Her wit, clarity, and courage to tell us hard truths were valuable, and it was my great honor to be mentored by Cecile in my own blogging career.
In memoriam, I dedicate this blog post to Cecile and as homage I will mimic a couple of the structures she employed in her blog/newsletter: Take Action, and This Week's Roses Amidst the Thorns. I'm sure that by including these sections in each post, she hoped to offset the despair and cynicism that can overtake those who pay attention to current events.
Cecile's most recent book
is not listed in the bio on her website, probably because she was slowing down a bit in recent years (she was about to turn 90).
A memoir, Entry Without Inspection: A Writer's Life in El Norte (University of Georgia Press, 2020) examined the personal and political influences in the life of a self-identified Chicana author who won numerous awards for her fiction: the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction, a gold Medal from the Commonwealth Club of California, and a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. She also, as a married mother, took it as her duty to have dinner on the table every night. She was also a director and performer of distinction who chronicled the declining support for theater that explored the bounds of dramatic possibility rather than striving for commercial success. She was also the child of immigrant parents who forged her own identity in the face of some spectacularly bad parenting. And, typical of her ability to locate the personal within the political, she depicted the catastrophic effects of U.S. immigration politices via her father's experience plus the story of a whistleblower who revealed the death of an immigrant while in ICE detention.
I enjoyed this book very much as I knew Cecile by the time I was reading it, and because her life at the borders of second wave feminism and 20th century immigration policies was illuminating -- at least the way she tells it.
Even more influential on my thinking:
her two previous books, also non-fiction.
Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World (Wings Press, 2015) is categorized as philosophy and attracted some illustrious blurbs when published. I'll let one from a prominent environmentalist speak for itself:
—Joanna Macy, author of Coming Back to Life
If you've asked yourself these questions, this book is for you.
Cecile's book with the biggest impact for me, personally, was undoubtedly this one.
Devil's Tango: How I Learned the Fukushima Step by Step (Wings Press, 2013) argued a thesis that acted as a tsunami demolishing my lifelong dread of nuclear war. It's not that I don't still dread it (and notice it creeping closer with each passing day), it's that I followed Cecile's carefully reasoned argument that nuclear holocaust is already here. Constant pollution from radiation leaks, accidents, and deliberate use of ordnance composed with depleted uranium already have global cancer rates and birth defects skyrocketing. Continuing to build nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon systems without any meaningful plans for containing the waste, much less the radiation produced by accidents, is collective suicide. Fukushima was a disaster waiting to happen and another earthquake could replicate it on any of several coasts around the planet.
I am deeply grateful to Cecile for both educating me and stimulating my ability to hold unwelcome truths in mind without succumbing to despair.
|A selfie with Cecile, Berkeley, spring 2022|
Cecile Pineda, ¡Presente!
World Beyond War Sign the petition: Don't get Yanked into war with China!
Roots Action Sign the petition: No to war, hot or cold, with Russia.
Send a Letter to Biden: Sanctions Fuel the Fire In response to the catastrophic fire at Matanzas energy facility in Cuba, an open letter signed by a growing list of prominent figures in the US and internationally, including Cornel West, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Noam Chomsky, and Jeremy Corbyn, calls for lifting sanctions on Cuba.
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Ask your elected officials to take the pledge to promote the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Sum of Us Tell the Japanese government: don't dump Fukushima nuclear waste water into the ocean!
Lakota People's Law Project Please send President Biden an email today, and ask him to cement his legacy as an advocate for Native communities by taking action to protect our children and sovereignty, up to and including an Executive Order.