Introduction to Volume 5

story illustration

The search, the trip, the obsession with finding some knowledge – these themes have provided fodder for wonderful stories through history – from the Odyssey to Star Wars, Sherlock Holmes to Frozen.

These themes also wind their way through many of the dozen stories in this latest volume – Volume 5 – of Tell Your True Tale: East Los Angeles.

Sylvia Castañeda spent 20 years seeking the disappeared children of her grand-aunt before she found what happened to them – and she tells that story here.

Felecia Howell tells of the search for commonality that led her to Liberia as a Peace Corps. Much the same search sent Miguel Roura to Mexico as a college student. Susanna Franek discovered an emerging Los Angeles, from her post as an ad saleswoman for La Opinion newspaper. In sixth grade, a Chinese girl growing up in South L.A., Jian Huang seeks, and finds, a friend, finally. Celia Viramontes tells the tale of a Zacatecan bracero searching for his family’s sustenance in Nebraska.

Sarah Alvarado contributes a terrific story of her deceased aunt, murdered as a teen, and Sarah’s own search for some connection to her. C.J. Salgado, a TYTT veteran, tells the story of what knowledge a battered toolbox provided about his father.

Cecelia Flores tells of her time, in the 1970s, when she worked as a taxi dancer. With her third TYTT story, Fabiola Manriquez relates a tale of change in East L.A. Jasmine De Haro writes of the recollections she has of her father, who believed she was a witch. Rita J. Ray tells us of schoolgirl dress made for her by the grandmother who saw her through childhood.

Finding the stories in small moments is one goal of this workshop. Another goal is to turn those nonfiction stories into tales that read like fiction. I believe the stories in this volume do that. But read and decide for yourself. I think you’ll find it all the more wondrous that they were produced by people who, for the most part, had not written much prior to this.

This fifth volume of Tell Your True Tale: East Los Angeles is the largest so far.

We have benefitted from the visionary sponsorship of the good folks at the L.A. County Library, who have this time around also funded an online editing service. This service is for writers who have finished two or three TYTT workshops and want – need – editing more than anything else. It allows us to continue to open space for new writers into the workshops, while editing the veterans as they continue to pump out great narrative.

We add sponsors this time around as well: The Los Angeles Review of Books and Eastsider L.A. have signed on, helping promote the workshops on their websites. Many thanks, folks!

Once again, I thank Daniel Hernandez, director of the Chicano Resource Center at the East L.A. Library, where these workshops have been held, and who was adventurous enough to allow them to first take place back in 2013.

Mary Yogi has been hugely helpful with the digital presentation of TYTT at the library’s website.

Thanks to Jesse Lanz, interim director of Adult and Digital Services for the library system, for his cheerful and energetic support of these workshops.

Eric Franco Aguilar, a TYTT alum, designed yet another terrific cover, his fourth for us.

Enjoy this fifth volume of Tell Your True Tale: East Los Angeles stories. Also, check out the county library’s page dedicated to the project:

Then remember, we hope you’ll come write a story of your own.

Sam Quinones