Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Indie Spotlight: Rafael Alvaerz

I am convinced that most of us can remember the person, place, or thing that helped us define what it was we wanted to be when we grew up. That one teacher who made you fall in love with learning, and decide to become one too; a particular photograph or artist that influenced a similar passion in you; a specific book that spoke to you so strongly that you began to shape a lifelong dream of publishing some of your own...

In today's indie spotlight, Rafael Alvarez - author of the recently released Tale from the Holy Land - shares a short reflective essay on his dream (before he realized it was his dream) of becoming a writer:


I am currently living the dream of an 8-year-old kid who didn't even know what the dream was. I was in the third grade and the teacher - Mrs. Jean Ortgies, she seemed ancient at 50 - read aloud to us. My favorite was Stuart Little and I could see myself in the matchbox canoe with him.

I went home and told my parents I was going to be a writer. They were kind, smiled, and told me to eat my vegetables. (I often hid peas and lima beans in the corners of my mouth and excused myself for the bathroom where I spit them in the toilet.)

I never lost sight of that dream and today - Feb. 6, 2014, three days before the 50th anniversary of the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan (which changed my life two years before the stuart little epiphany, which i use to connect the dots from a kid who liked to read to a kid who wanted to write). I am driving through the south in search of warm weather and an audience - one or two, wherever two or more are gathered - to hear fictional accounts of those very people who told me to eat my vegetables, stories collected in tales form the holy land: my father the tugboat engineer who sailed to venezuela as a teenager on a Baltimore ore ship; my Polish-American mother who liked nothing better growing up than chocolate milk and coconut custard pie, who went to work with her depression era cannery worker mother - the great anna potter jones - and played in bushel baskets while her mom snipped string beans on an assembly line. 

I sleep in the back of the truck by the side of the road and dream bigger dreams, all of which take me back to a holy land bounded by the Baltimore harbor on the south and Johns Hopkins hospital on the north. When there are no customers, I give the books away. I want to be read ...

  - Rafael Alvaerz, on the road, 02.06.14, rocky mount NC


Rafael Alvarez is a short story writer based in Baltimore and Los Angeles. A longtime City Desk reporter for the Baltimore Sun where he wrote obituaries while documenting the folklore of the old port city – Alvarez wrote for the first three seasons of the HBO cop drama, The Wire.

1 comment:

  1. Always do enjoy Rafael's thoughts and ideas which luckily, for the many readers in our world, he has committed to paper. The written word remains!