Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stephanie Elizondo Griest

Stephanie Elizondo Griest's books include her award-winning memoir Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana (Villard/Random House, 2004) and her guidebook, 100 Places Every Woman Should Go (Travelers' Tales, 2007).

Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
After hitting 35 cities on book tour this year, I am crazy grateful to be tucked away in a bungalow on the South Texas Bay for the month. Most of my waking hours are consumed by my memoir, Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines, which comes out in August 2008. But I'm savoring a little pleasure reading too. Three books (and a stack of New Yorkers) occupy the bedside table at present:

--The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. This book is so genius, I can hardly stand it. Díaz blends twentieth century history of the Dominican Republic with street philosophy, sci-fi, and racial politics plus all the elements of good story telling: character development, plot, dialogue, and WICKED humor. It's the most exhilarating novel I've read in years.

--Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. I'm heading to South Africa and Mozambique in January, so am using this as a primer. Mandela is a charming narrator, and his story is astounding.

--What is the What by Dave Eggers. I heard Eggers read an excerpt long before publication, and found it deeply moving. I've been lugging this tome around for months and can't wait to delve in.
In 2000, Griest was a political reporter at the Austin bureau of the Associated Press, where she covered George W. Bush’s last legislative session as governor and his bid for the presidency. Before that, she edited and taught journalism at China Daily, the English mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, while serving as a Henry Luce Scholar in Beijing. During her three month tenure as a Scotty Reston Fellow at the New York Times, she wrote about male belly dancers, Latina film makers, and dentists who replace canines with fangs. An article she wrote about religious cults for the Washington Post garnered her a spot on the 1996 USA TODAY All Academic First Team. She also covered Seattle's grunge scene for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Austin's drag queens for The Texas Triangle. She contributed to the anthologies Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times (Basic Books, 2004), Lengua Fresca: Latinos Writing on the Edge (Mariner Books, 2006), and Go Your Own Way (Seal Press, 2007). Her travel adventures have appeared in Latina Magazine; Bitch Magazine; World Pulse Magazine; Traveler’s Tales: Cuba; Traveler's Tales: A Fork in Her Road; Traveler’s Tales: Turkey; Traveler's Tales: China; Traveler's Tales: Whose Panties are These?; Traveler's Tales: A Woman's Europe; Traveler's Tales: Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why; Traveler's Tales: Best of Traveler's Tales 2004; Travelers' Tales: Best of Women's Travel Writing 2006; Traveler's Tales: Prague and the Czech Republic; Travelers' Tales: Another Women's World; Q Magazine; and Many Mountains Moving.

Read an excerpt from Around the Bloc and visit Stephanie Elizondo Griest's website.

The Page 99 Test: Around the Bloc.

--Marshal Zeringue