“All They Will Call You” RELEASE DATE & Other News

Hey Friends,

As I’m writing this update, filmmaker and poet Valentin “The Butcher” Sandoval is sitting across from me cutting up the footage (editing) for the documentary, “Searching for the Plane Wreck at Los Gatos.”The film is a behind-the-scenes look at the research that went into my book, “All They Will Call You.” True to the nature of this whole project, the documentary itself has been a collective undertaking. Videographers include everyone from myself, to Missouri resident Ken Leija, the young videographer Sandy Cano from Guanajuato (who traveled with me throughout central Mexico), at times my own mother Lydia Z. Hernandez took footage with her iPhone, and Fresno based musician Dayanna Sevilla even got some footage for us. Most recently, Valentin has taken some excellent footage of various locales and interviews, including our recent trip to Rough Rock, Arizona. While in Mexico I had traveled around with a driver named Armando Sierra Razo, and of course, my brother in spirit, Guillermo Ramirez (grandson and nephew of two of the passengers). And then back in 2013, musician Lance Canales and Carlos Rascon of the Fresno Diocese were instrumental in helping me raise money to install the memorial headstone. Too, the amazing team at the University of Arizona Press has been critical, and well….I could go on and on, but the long story short is that it’s taken a whole lotta kind hearted people to make every aspect of this project happen, and I believe the world is better for it. I can’t believe it’s all finally coming to fruition, and I can’t wait to share these beautiful and heart-breaking stories with you all!

For now, we’ll be releasing a series of book trailers that feature portions of the documentary between now and the book’s release, January 28, 2017.

 

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Here are a few kind words about the book from some amazing people I admire:

“There’s something miraculous about the storytelling feat Tim Z. Hernandez has pulled off in ‘All They Will Call You.’ With great compassion and patience, he has immersed himself in a long-forgotten episode of California history, and uncovered a multi-layered epic of love, injustice and family fortitude stretching across generations and borders. This is an intelligent, empathic and deeply moving work.”

—Hector Tobar

Author of Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the

Miracle That Set Them Free

“In his lyrics to Plane Wreck At Los Gatos, my father, Woody Guthrie, asked a simple question, ‘Who are these friends?’ and finally someone has answered that question. Through Hernandez’s amazing work, I now know who these people were, their lives, their loves, and their journeys. “All They Will Call You” is a heart wrenching read for anyone who cares, and the names–now etched in stone in a far off graveyard– have become friends who will travel with me as long as I am walking.”

-Arlo Guthrie

 

An important and moving book, exploring the theme of identity and loss and disenfranchisement — topics that have never been more urgent than they are now. Hernandez has illuminated the present with this original and riveting examination of the past.

—Susan Orlean

Author of The Orchid Thief

 

“Woody Guthrie must surely be smiling, wherever he is.  All They Will Call You completes the sad, yet compelling story outlined many years ago in his song “Deportees.” Thanks to Tim Z. Hernandez, the souls of the migrant workers lost in that 1948 plane wreck can now rest peacefully.  Required reading for true Guthrie fans.”

—Robert Santelli, Grammy Museum Executive Director

 

“Tim Z. Hernandez is the real thing. This epic, tragic story is finally being told, and it is in the best possible hands.”

—Luis Alberto Urrea

Author of The Devil’s Highway

 

“Hernandez’ loving detail and authentic knowledge of The Valley continues to plant him firmly in Steinbeck and Saroyan country while forging his own path. Part documentary part thriller Hernandez’ voice rings true nearly breathless with new information and a certain justice now rising like smoke from the wreckage in the canyons of his beloved and mysterious San Joaquin.”

—Richard Montoya,

Actor/ Producer, Culture Clash

 

“A scrupulous writer and researcher, Hernandez has changed the course of America’s musical history, as well as it’s immigration history.”

—Will Kaufman

Author of Woody Guthrie: American Radical

 

AVAILABLE JANUARY 28, 2017

FINAL VERSION

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Mañana Means Heaven Blog Tour Kicks Off

Dear Friends,

The “Mañana Means Heaven Blog Tour” kicks off this Monday with a great interview by Kerouac scholar and author, Stephanie Nikolopoulos. Starting Monday, six different blog sights (see links below) will be posting interviews, excerpts, never before seen photos of Bea Franco, audio clips and other cool tidbits about the book over six days. This is an opportunity to learn more about Bea Franco, and get access to material that was not included in the book.

Manana Means Heaven Blog Tour:

Monday, September 16 | Stephanie Nikolopoulos, http://stephanienikolopoulos.com/blog/
Tuesday, September 17 | The Daily Beat, http://thedailybeatblog.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, September 18 | La Bloga, http://labloga.blogspot.com/
Thursday, September 19 | The Big Idea, http://www.jasonfmcdaniel.com/
Friday, September 20 | The Dan O’Brien Project http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/
Saturday, September 21 | Impressions of a Reader http://www.impressionsofareader.com/

Book Tour & Readings

FYI, the east coast leg of the book tour begins as of next Wednesday, September 18 in Easthampton, Mass. After that I go to NY for the book release party at La Casa Azul Bookstore, and then on to the Brooklyn Book Festival. Please click here for all dates and details. Thanks again for supporting and I hope to see you at these events!

MMHBook Cover

Bea Franco, “The Mexican Girl,” Dies at Age 92

Last Friday I received a phone call from Albert Franco (Bea’s son) telling me of the dismal news that his mother had passed away last Thursday morning. This comes exactly one week after she held a new copy of “Manana Means Heaven” in her warm hands, and allowed her daughter Patricia to snap some photos of her. One of which I posted on my Facebook account (see below). Needless to say, I was stunned at the news. We had been making plans to honor her at the upcoming book release event in Fresno, and she had been doing great health-wise in recent weeks. Over the weekend I pulled out the video footage of our interviews, which were done in late 2010, when I first found her, and I watched them. She still had her humor about her, and her warm smile was infectious. Especially as she told me the story of how in the early days of East Los Angeles, she wasn’t afraid to fight, and how she often defended her sister Angie from bullies. She laughed about those days. Bea also loved skittles. She often kept a bowl of them on her dining room table. Throughout our interviews she would sneak away to the back of the house to take a few puffs from a cigarette. She was 90 years old at the time. When I first told her that there were over twenty Kerouac biographies that had included her name, her reply was, “Why? My life wasn’t so special.” And then she’d chuckle. In viewing those videos, I see now just how lucky I am to have known her, even if only for a brief moment in time. During the years it took me to write “Manana Means Heaven,” as any writer will tell you, I lived with her in my mind and heart. And then sometimes I’d speak with her in person and she’d remind me, in her own unassuming way, that it was simply a small part of who she was, in a life that spanned nearly a century. On this melancholy occasion, I think of the curious way she signed off her letters, to Kerouac, to her husband and to her friends: “I REMAIN AS EVER, Bea”

Bea holding a copy of "Manana Means Heaven." August 9. (Copyright 2013, used with the permission of Bea's Estate)

Bea holding a copy of “Mañana Means Heaven.” August 9. (Copyright 2013, used with the permission of Bea’s Estate)

(October 13, 1920 – August 15, 2013)

Invisible Characters

Three years after Jack spent those impressionable weeks with Bea, he completed the first draft of his book, “On the Road.” Of course, the book wouldn’t land a publisher until six years later, in 1957. What isn’t usually conveyed in the lore that has become Kerouac, is that during these six years his book racked up countless rejections. It wasn’t until a man named Malcolm Cowley, who was an editorial consultant with Viking Press at the time, and a friend, suggested Jack get a couple of excerpts of the book published, as a way to get his foot in the door. Jack followed his advice and in 1955 had a small section published in a journal under the title, “Jazz of the Beat Generation.” But even with this now under his belt, it wasn’t until 1956 that his big break would come. It happened when the section about his relationship with a woman named “Terry,” titled “The Mexican Girl,” which took place in California’s San Joaquin Valley, was accepted by The Paris Review. The story garnered rave reviews, and shortly after was also acquired for the Best American Short Stories of 1956 anthology. It wasn’t until after publishing this story that “On the Road” was finally accepted by Viking Press, and the rest, as they say…

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Given the relevance that “The Mexican Girl” story had in Kerouac’s career, little has been known about who “Terry,” or Bea Franco, really was. Because she was from a family of migrant farmworkers, many scholars suspected she was from Mexico, and that’s likely where she returned. A possibility which seems more like a convenience than based in any evidence. With Bea Franco out of the picture one could speculate all they wanted without ever being held accountable for their claims. The same can be said for Esperanza Villanueva, the Mexicana who was the heroin junky of Kerouac’s book, “Tristessa.” Except in her case, she really was from Mexico, a Chilanga to be exact. And what about John Fante’s Camilla of “Ask the Dust?” What was her memory of their time together? How do we know that in the end she simply walked out into the desert never to be seen again? I mean, isn’t that what we’re told about the lost women of Juarez? Novels like Monique Truong’s “Book of Salt,” a look at Gertrude Stein’s life with Alice Toklas, taken from the perspective of Stein’s Vietnamese cook, Binh, hold extreme value. Even today, we find ourselves eating at a great restaurant, maybe sushi or (insert your favorite here), and chances are the people behind the food are a part of that invisible population. When was the last time we wondered about the lives of the workers who supply our Hotel rooms with new bed sheets and towels? They make it possible for us to live out our daily narratives, when all along, they have a narrative of their own, as equally compelling and vital. This is where my interest is. On lifting the veil of the “invisible characters.”

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As for the upcoming movie, “On the Road.” Pictured here is a photo of Alice Braga, the Brazilian actress who is portraying “Terry Franco” in the movie, which is due to hit theaters everywhere in January 2013. (Side note: Alice’s famous aunt, actress Sonia Braga, also played a farmworker from the San Joaquin Valley once too. It was a made for television mini-series called, “A Will of Their Own,” where she portrayed a UFW activist named Jessie de la Cruz.) In this photo we see Alice, or “Terry” used in a promotional poster for the film. The Director of the film, Walter Salles, said that prior to making the film, he too had taken the same road trip described in “On the Road.” Along the way he said he met with various people who were a part of the book and interviewed them to get an authentic sense of who they were, and of the time. Of course, Bea Franco was never contacted. When I ask her today about what she thinks of this film coming out, and how she feels about her image being portrayed on the big screen without her consent, she simply shrugs. She scratches her arm and grins, then shuffles to the back part of her house for a quick smoke. I’m hoping to catch the movie with her and her son Albert. If this does happen, I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

 

*“Mañana Means Heaven,” my novel of historical fiction based on Bea Franco’s life is due out in Fall 2013 with the University of Arizona Press.