Gays Reading

PRIDE Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Kimberly King Parsons, KB Brookins, and Santiago Jose Sanchez

June 17, 2024 Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Kimberly King Parsons, KB Brookins, Santiago Jose Sanchez Season 2 Episode 58
PRIDE Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Kimberly King Parsons, KB Brookins, and Santiago Jose Sanchez
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Gays Reading
PRIDE Upcoming/Up & Coming feat. Kimberly King Parsons, KB Brookins, and Santiago Jose Sanchez
Jun 17, 2024 Season 2 Episode 58
Jason Blitman, Brett Benner, Kimberly King Parsons, KB Brookins, Santiago Jose Sanchez

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In the final PRIDE installment of Upcoming/Up & Coming, Jason and Brett talk to debut* authors Kimberly King Parsons (We Were the Universe), KB Brookins (Pretty), and Santiago Jose Sanchez (Hombrecito). They talk about the theatre of parenthood, queer representation in books and media, and using writing to better understand your own story. 

*Debut-ish! Kimberly’s debut novel and KB’s debut memoir.

Kimberly King Parsons is the author of Black Light, a collection of stories that was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. In 2020, she received the National Magazine Award for fiction. Born in Lubbock, Texas, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her partner and children. We Were the Universe is her first novel.

KB Brookins is a Black, queer, and trans writer and cultural worker from Texas. They are the author of Freedom House and How to Identify Yourself with a Wound. Brookins has poems, essays, and installation art published in Academy of American Poets, Teen Vogue, Poetry Magazine, Prizer Arts & Letters, Okayplayer, Poetry Society of America, Autostraddle, and other venues. They have earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN America, Equality Texas, and others.

Santiago Jose Sanchez (they/them), a Grinnell College assistant professor of English and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is a queer Colombian American writer. Santiago’s writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, ZYZZYVA, Subtropics, and Joyland and been distinguished in Best American Short Stories. They are the recipient of a Truman Capote Fellowship from the University of Iowa and an Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellowship from Lambda Literary.

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BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
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Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

In the final PRIDE installment of Upcoming/Up & Coming, Jason and Brett talk to debut* authors Kimberly King Parsons (We Were the Universe), KB Brookins (Pretty), and Santiago Jose Sanchez (Hombrecito). They talk about the theatre of parenthood, queer representation in books and media, and using writing to better understand your own story. 

*Debut-ish! Kimberly’s debut novel and KB’s debut memoir.

Kimberly King Parsons is the author of Black Light, a collection of stories that was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Story Prize. In 2020, she received the National Magazine Award for fiction. Born in Lubbock, Texas, she lives in Portland, Oregon, with her partner and children. We Were the Universe is her first novel.

KB Brookins is a Black, queer, and trans writer and cultural worker from Texas. They are the author of Freedom House and How to Identify Yourself with a Wound. Brookins has poems, essays, and installation art published in Academy of American Poets, Teen Vogue, Poetry Magazine, Prizer Arts & Letters, Okayplayer, Poetry Society of America, Autostraddle, and other venues. They have earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN America, Equality Texas, and others.

Santiago Jose Sanchez (they/them), a Grinnell College assistant professor of English and a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is a queer Colombian American writer. Santiago’s writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, ZYZZYVA, Subtropics, and Joyland and been distinguished in Best American Short Stories. They are the recipient of a Truman Capote Fellowship from the University of Iowa and an Emerging LGBTQ Voices Fellowship from Lambda Literary.

Gays Reading is sponsored by Audible. Get a FREE 30-day trial by visiting audibletrial.com/gaysreading

BOOKS!
Check out the list of books discussed on each episode on our Bookshop page: https://bookshop.org/shop/gaysreading

MERCH!
Purchase your Gays Reading podcast merchandise HERE!
https://gaysreading.myspreadshop.com/

FOLLOW!
@gaysreading | @jasonblitman | @bretts.book.stack

CONTACT!
gaysreading@gmail.com

Brett Benner:

Another week of summer and another huge, glut of books are coming out.

Jason Blitman:

I know. And we're still carrying on with pride. We're very proud.

Brett Benner:

We're very proud.

Jason Blitman:

to all of our listeners, as always, thank you for being here. If you're new to us, welcome. As always, if you like what you're hearing, share us with your friends, follow us on social media, at GaysReading, you could subscribe to our Patreon, where we have some bonus content, we have merch, and all of the books that we talk about on the show can be found in our bookshop. org page and all of the links to all of these things are in our show notes. And in the link, in our link tree, on our Instagram, at Gay's Reading. do you want to start with some of the books that are coming out?

Brett Benner:

well, some of these that are coming out are people that are having on the show very shortly, including Claire Lombardo.

Jason Blitman:

You know, Lombardo's book, Same as It Ever Was, comes out today.

Brett Benner:

Catherine Newman.

Jason Blitman:

Katherine Newman's book, Sandwich, comes out today.

Brett Benner:

Yes. And both of those conversations are coming up so soon. Both are fantastic conversations. So please be on the watch for those.

Jason Blitman:

make sure you pre order them.

Brett Benner:

yeah, they're fantastic books. Another book is Bobby Fingers Four Squares, which looks so wonderful and sweet and centers on a slightly odd, older, I should say more mature LGBTQ gentlemen. I'm looking forward to that.

Jason Blitman:

There's also One Star Romance by Laura Henkin, and, Lula Deen's Little Library of Banned Books by Kirsten Miller, whose book The Change came out a couple years ago, which was so delicious and so

Brett Benner:

I loved that.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. And so Lula Deen's Little Library of Banned Books, very much deals with the universe of banned books and also little free libraries, two things that I find very important.

Brett Benner:

I love my little free library. It's a constant, I look at it as a, flower that constantly needs grooming. Yes.

Jason Blitman:

very sweet. I try to avoid them because I need more books like, Need a Hole in the Head. So I try to avoid Little Free Libraries, even though I love them. And thank you to all of our Little Free Library stewards out there.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

Today, we have Kimberly King Parsons talking about her book, We Were the Universe. We have K. B. Brookins talking about their book, We Were the Universe. Pretty. And we have Santiago José Sánchez talking about their book, Hombrecito. Santi and I grew up in South Florida and we had a lot of gushing about South Florida. and they're all wonderful humans and debut novelists. And I'm so excited for everyone to check them out. Although KB's book is a memoir. They are a debut memoirist rather than a poet because they are a poet first, memoirist second up.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

so first up we have Kimberly King Parsons talking about her book, We Were the Universe. I'm Jason,

Brett Benner:

I'm Brett. He's reading.

Jason Blitman:

upcoming, up and coming Pride episode of Gays Reading.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Hello.

Brett Benner:

Hello! Oh my god, what an impressive bookshelf behind you.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Oh, thank you. It's my, yeah. I've lugged this shit around with me for years and years. I'm very happy to set it up in every new home, but yeah. Hi. How are you?

Jason Blitman:

Good for you for legging.

Kimberly King Parsons:

I know. I'm like, it's worth it. It's worth it.

Jason Blitman:

I have a very unpopular opinion about things like that. I'm like, I want the books in the world. I want someone else to read it. I want to give them away. Like seeing a book on a shelf

Kimberly King Parsons:

You're like, what a way. What a

Jason Blitman:

makes me sad. I know. I'm like go be free.

Kimberly King Parsons:

I know. You know what? I do give a lot of them away and I have little kids and I want them, of course, they don't care about reading at all, probably because we have 2000 books in our house that they're just like, it seems boring, but I want to have books around just cause I grew up in a house with no books. We had three books in my whole house. One was the Bible. One was the a volume of encyclopedia and one was this Sci-fi book with this lady with a, like a suit like unzipped all the way down that I was like obsessed With

Jason Blitman:

Surrounding yourself. I think you're right. Okay, I, you've changed my mind. Young people surrounded by books is a good thing. I'm into it.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Thank you so much for talking to me today. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this. Hello.

Jason Blitman:

Thank you for being here. Hello back. Wait, we have to circle back to something. Cause like you, you can't just drop that. You had the a volume of the encyclopedia and not talk about

Kimberly King Parsons:

Because it was

Jason Blitman:

me more.

Kimberly King Parsons:

It was free. So they would give you the like teaser volume. And so we got that one, but then my parents were like, that seems like a waste of money. We're not doing that whole investment. A kid of the eighties and nineties when like paper encyclopedias were still a thing. Also, we had a CD ROM. I remember that. Full encyclopedia on it. So I guess I did have access to things but but yeah, just the bible the sci fi and the a volume of the encyclopedia, so That's

Jason Blitman:

that just sparked my own memory of the door to door encyclopedia delivery salesman. Literally we, my dad fell for that. I say I guess it was an important thing to have in the house, but did I ever open it? Probably not.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Also my grandma had all these readers digests and I would There was a section called I survived death and I would get like weirdly turned on and read all these like in her basement about like people who had been in alligator attacks. I don't know. There was something about that. I was like, they're so alive. But yeah, there was something about reading the Reader's Digest. So we had those I think less in like National Geographic's but we did have my grandma also had the Guinness Book of World Records, which like, The creepy girl with the 13 inch waist and like the giant

Jason Blitman:

the long nails. Oh

Brett Benner:

your

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Brett Benner:

How

Jason Blitman:

I remember going through being like, what can I do?

Kimberly King Parsons:

Yeah, exactly. Where's my record?

Brett Benner:

long can I get my nails? How much can I stretch my neck?

Kimberly King Parsons:

That was, I remember that one too. I feel like

Brett Benner:

The rings all the way up. Like

Kimberly King Parsons:

kept going to was like the 1989 Guinness Book of World Records was like very formative in my childhood. Yeah. For

Brett Benner:

associate all that too with like wax museums, anything that would present nightmares as a child all seem to be tied into that same kind of like pantheon

Jason Blitman:

Ripley's, believe it or not. Yeah. Yeah. Wait, so the people who survived death, do you remember any of them specifically?

Kimberly King Parsons:

I just remember there was like some guy who was sucked into some like factory equipment and survived

Jason Blitman:

Oh my God, hashtag Willy Wonka.

Kimberly King Parsons:

a lot of animal attacks and or just, big disasters, like an earthquake or I don't know, there was stuff like that. People would write them. And I knew I felt like I was doing something wrong. Like reading felt like scandalous in my grandma's house. I don't know. It was I was just down there reading these and feeling very like excited about people who escaped death. I don't know.

Jason Blitman:

I want to write a whole book about it. I remember my parents telling me that they used to live around the corner from a man who survived and getting struck by lightning.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Wow. Yeah. I'm sure there was one of those in there too. It's always like cool. It was people who escaped death in cool ways. It wasn't like, someone recovered from an illness. It was like cool. Coolers.

Brett Benner:

I survived a cheetah attack.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Yeah, exactly.

Brett Benner:

In Pomona, of all places. Yeah. Or something weird.

Jason Blitman:

Oh my God. We could talk about escaping death all day, but should we talk about

Brett Benner:

But we have a book to talk about.

Jason Blitman:

I don't want to say we're cheating, but you have written a book before, but this is your debut novel.

Kimberly King Parsons:

Love it. Yeah. Love to be a second time debut. No. Yeah. I think it's a totally different thing. Totally different experience. So very happy to be here. Pretending it's my first time. No, it is. It's a whole new thing. So yeah. Thank you.

Jason Blitman:

So tell us about We Were the Universe. What is your elevator pitch, one liner?

Kimberly King Parsons:

Okay. So I have been saying for years that it's a book about Texas motherhood and psychedelics, which inevitably gets people to be like, what, how are those things related? Or I will say that it's like. Fleabag, if Fleabag were a queer mom living in a Dallas suburb. But yeah, so it's basically this, we meet our, my main character, protagonist she is leading a pretty seemingly normal stay at home mom life. But just under the surface, there's a lot of unresolved pain and guilt surrounding the death of her sister, which takes place just before the novel begins. And the way that Kit, the main character, is dealing with this surfacing guilt and grief is through escape, like fantasizing about the men and women of her neighborhood a lot of Porn and just letting nostalgia have its way with her. And so she's remembering her past when she was an adventurous free spirit. And now she's in a monogamous relationship. She doesn't do drugs anymore. And so she's all of her coping mechanisms have left her.

Jason Blitman:

How does Kimberly feel about that?

Kimberly King Parsons:

How do I feel about it?

Jason Blitman:

The way you were saying that, I was like, Oh, is she, does she miss her coping mechanisms?

Kimberly King Parsons:

It's funny. I think that there's something that happens when you have a baby where suddenly self destruction is off the table. And I think that in the past, it's like, it's not that I necessarily, was attracted to self destruction, but it was an option. And I guess once you have a kid, you're like I really just have to keep my act together. So I definitely relate to that feeling. And also I definitely relate to the feeling of using self deprecation and humor and fantasy to avoid dealing with real life stuff that's bothering me. So yeah I can see where she's coming from a little bit. Yeah. Kit, this narrator, she's a young mom, so she's only in her early 20s and she, it was like, she just missed her chance to fully self destruct, and now she's gotta, she's gotta stay this sort of responsible path, yeah.

Jason Blitman:

So you're saying having kids is a buzzkill. That's the takeaway.

Kimberly King Parsons:

I feel like it's good. I feel like it's actually really good. I feel like I will personally I didn't have my kids. I was in my 30s. And so I had definitely run the full gamut of everything I really wanted to do. And and I so I don't have that feeling of missed opportunity or because I felt like I did. Plenty of that. I lived in New York for many years before my kids were born. And then once they were born, we had to leave. So there were buzzkills in that way because we can't raise kids in New York City. But but I didn't feel a lot of missed opportunities personally, but this character certainly does. And I think that there's something about when you have a baby, you're expected to immediately sublimate your personality and your interests. And I just believe that if you were a mom, if you're a person who's into psychedelics before you have a baby, probably you're now a mom who's interested in psychedelics, but you're just meant to immediately be caregivers, and yeah.

Jason Blitman:

The book is also so much about the judgment of doing it wrong. And by it, I mean parenting, grief, even talking about you left New York because of the kids, right? Someone might say you're doing it wrong, right? It's Where did that, did you feel like that was true for you as a mom? Did you feel like that? How, where did the doing it wrong element of it all come from for you?

Kimberly King Parsons:

Yeah, I think that people will tell you when you have a kid whether you're a mom or a dad or parent, whatever, they'll say you need to put a hat on that baby. Everyone has an opinion on how you're supposed to raise your child, and they know that it's a really quick way to do it. to immediately disparage or cut you down, because there's no way that's not a loaded statement. Like, where are her shoes? There's no way that you can interpret that any other way than being judged. And everyone has very strong opinions about how to raise a child, especially people who don't have kids. They have some of the strongest opinions of all. So I definitely felt that lot like having kids and even though I was in my 30s, I felt like a teen mom. Sometimes like I just would feel like I don't know how to do this. How does anyone know how to do this stuff? It wasn't the sense of even though I did follow my instincts in a lot of ways, like There are certain things like breastfeeding is a big thing in this book where everyone wants you to breastfeed for a year. And in fact, they'll be like you must, like you have to do it. But then if you go beyond the year, then people start to get squicked out by it. Like it flips really quickly the other direction. But again, like people will have really strong opinions about things that are essentially inconsequential to them. That has nothing to do with you and your family. But I definitely felt that, and even, it comes from your own family, your in laws have ideas your mother, your own mother has ideas and so it's about filtering out that noise to try to make the best decisions for your family. And so yeah, I definitely felt that for sure having a child,

Jason Blitman:

And there just isn't a rulebook. And it's there's not a rulebook for parenting, there's not a rulebook for grieving. And the people, lots of people are affected by grief, it's a part of life, unfortunately, and we all handle it differently in the same way that we all handle parenting differently. I say we all, I am not a parent. I'm a dog dad who I hate the phrase dog dad, but I have a very difficult dog,

Kimberly King Parsons:

yeah, no, also the grief thing, I I noticed about grief was how it robs you of the present moment. And that's the thing. And all of us, if we live long enough, we will experience grief. And Just that sensation of not being able to the way it just consumes time and it elongates time too. It's very tricky the way that it works. And yeah, there's also the sense that you're not grieving, right? You're not processing, right? You're not handling things right when everybody goes at their own pace and can only handle what they can handle.

Jason Blitman:

know themes of like bravery are found in the book as well. What do you think it means to be brave?

Kimberly King Parsons:

I think it means doing the thing that feels right for you and not worrying so much about what other people think. And I think it's interesting because I realized later, like this main character, she's like a messy bitch in a lot of ways. Like she's breastfeeding a kid who's three, almost four. She is like attachment parenting because she herself was underparented. And I find that this whiplash is something that is real. It's true for my life as well. Growing up, Full on latchkey kid who felt like very much raised by Oprah like by afternoon TV and like microwaving Kraft singles and I had a very I was left alone a ton. And so my kids, they're structured within an inch of their lives. Like they have all these activities and all this enrichment. And I know that's probably a indirect relation to the way that I was raised.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Kimberly King Parsons:

But I think there's something I know also when you write about things like MILF is like still the number one most searched porn term, but people get very uncomfortable with the idea of a mother looking at porn. And so I know that there's a part of me that must be including these themes that are tricky for people as a way, not that I'm trying to provoke, but just that to me, that feels like bravery to write about the things that matter, that feel relevant without, The sense that maybe some people are going to be like horrified, they'll be horrified just by the idea of a mom looking at pornography or breastfeeding a kid till she's three. Like,

Jason Blitman:

Rest feed the kid as long as you want. Carrying that extra bag, you don't have room for that extra bag. It's just on your body.

Kimberly King Parsons:

It's

Brett Benner:

I've, I've, there's a comment that, her friend makes her at one point that says if she can ask for it, it's too much. And I've heard that, but like reading that, I've heard that so much. I remember that whole thing going through that and being like, and having hearing other people say to me about somebody else, that exact same thing. I was like,

Jason Blitman:

I mean, Listen, everyone's allowed to have their own opinion, but mind your business. Keep it to yourself.

Kimberly King Parsons:

People will definitely but also my kids were really verbal really early. So I'm like, they're actually still little enough that but my older son would be like, Can I have a quick squirt? Like he would say that and I'm like, and it's so weird to people. But also you're like, he's not even to like, he's just really verbal.

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Kimberly King Parsons:

if you're old enough to ask for it, you shouldn't get it like, and again, I think that they're trying to be a little bit flippant or funny or whatever. And in the moment though, too, I think you just have to and every kid is different as well. Like one kid may be like attached for it forever and the other kid is like over it really quickly, but yeah, just figuring out what is like the best thing for you. But knowing also that there's this theater of parenthood that happens anytime we leave our house, which is on the playground, everything. And it's not what we even say to our kids. It's what we're saying for the other parents to hear

Jason Blitman:

And how you're presenting for the other parents, yeah.

Brett Benner:

Do you have any kind of musical background yourself? Or is that a big part of your life? And if so, what did you like or do you like?

Kimberly King Parsons:

I've always been in bands. Not now so much since I'm, in my 40s and have children, but I have always been in bands growing up when I was a teenager in Dallas where I grew up. Our thing was that we wanted to just be good enough to open for the real bands. We didn't even and we weren't very good. And like a variety of different types of bands. I always sing, I've always listened to music. It's a huge part of my day to day life. And for years before I switched into the writing path, I think I had ideas that I was going to go on to do, to be a musician in some way. And when it became apparent that wasn't going to happen I pretty quickly, pivoted and went all in on writing.

Jason Blitman:

know, Coming back to you talking about bravery, you talk about so many things in the book that like people just don't address, like for a mom to be in a heterosexual presenting relationship, but also pine for a fellow mom on the playground. Can you talk a bit about that and what it means to be a writer and especially right now?

Kimberly King Parsons:

I have not seen a lot of representation on this front, which is someone who is, I've always been queer, always have been attracted to, in fact, most of my relationships were with women before in my past, but then I'm married to a straight dude and happily married and a monogamous relationship now. And so but that representation isn't something that you see very often but it's still a huge part of my identity, of course. And for this character, her interior life is. Is, she calls it the vault, like we all have the vault, all of the flames from the past and conjure when you need them, but like her vault is made up of men and women from the past, but then also her present moment. She's pulled around by her lust still, even though she's married, which is again something that I think people get. Freaked out about it. They just don't understand. How does that work? How can you experience both a happy monogamous relationship and also be like deeply horny in your brain, you

Brett Benner:

It's window shopping. That's what I always

Jason Blitman:

But also because we're animals.

Brett Benner:

yes. I always say it's like shopping with your credit cards maxed out. I know I can't actually buy it, but I can certainly look

Kimberly King Parsons:

you can put stuff in the cart. You put stuff in the car and then close the browser window. Yeah. I think since we're deep in the interior mind of this character, it would be such a lie to have her be you. saying to herself oh, but you can't look at this part. It's what? No, this, she's alone. We're in her animal thoughts, in her mind. So of course we get to see all of that stuff.

Jason Blitman:

yeah. Which makes it like extra fun. Is there something that's deep in your vault that you are willing to share?

Kimberly King Parsons:

I, I think that some of the things from this book are ripped from the real, from the true life. So certainly, and I definitely feel like although it's fiction and synthesized and I just did this event in Dallas where literally like my mother in law, my father in law, my mom, my like aunts, like everybody was there. And I was just like, I'm like, people who grieve people who are horny, they grieve hornily. And my family just burst out laughing. And I was like, see, they know, like they know me enough to know these things. And so I think it's I can say it's fiction and it is certainly. The circumstances aren't me, but there's so many things that I've pulled from my real life and also from my kids mouths. Gilda, the daughter in the book, she says a lot of things that I just have literally like just copied from my kids and put it right in the book because the way kids speak is so strange. They say the most bizarre things and I definitely am always like writing that stuff down.

Jason Blitman:

amazing. I didn't mean to pry. I just to talk about the vault. And so I it titillated me.

Kimberly King Parsons:

sure. Yeah. And of course right now I'm like, now I am remembering things in my vault, but

Jason Blitman:

Those are for you. We'll keep it locked. Keep it locked.

Brett Benner:

for the next book.

Jason Blitman:

Exactly. So you've talked about a couple books that you're excited about. Are there others that are coming down the pike that you want to shout out?

Kimberly King Parsons:

Yes, okay, so there is a book called Madwoman by Chelsea Beaker, who, full disclosure, is one of my dearest friends, and one of the kindest human beings in the whole world, but this novel is it really, walks the line between literary fiction and a thriller. It's propulsive, page turning she was directly inspired by Sleeping with the Enemy it's a domestic violence story, but it's also, it's funny, it's about identity, it's about motherhood, it's about The outward presentation of a sort of upper middle class mom in Portland, Oregon, it's really good and I think it's it's perfect for people who like thrillers and suspense novels, but also who want to be blown away by really beautiful sentences.

Jason Blitman:

You're talking to the right people.

Kimberly King Parsons:

yeah,

Jason Blitman:

That's very on brand for us. Kimberly King Parsons, thank you so much for being here,

Brett Benner:

Thank you, Kimberly.

Jason Blitman:

now over to KB Brookins to hear about their book, Pretty.

Brett Benner:

Good morning.

KB Brookins:

Good morning. How are y'all?

Jason Blitman:

Good. How you doing?

KB Brookins:

I'm all right. I can't complain.

Jason Blitman:

We're here to talk about your book. Your book, your memoir, your kaleidoscope of things pretty.

Brett Benner:

manifesto. God,

Jason Blitman:

Do you have like a log line, an elevator pitch of what the book is?

KB Brookins:

Yeah it has been toted online as such and I think I'm gonna borrow that. a multi genre book on queerness, masculinity, and race.

Brett Benner:

oh my god, that is so precision.

Jason Blitman:

Very succinct.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

And done. Yeah, what was the transition from poetry to creating this?

KB Brookins:

I think that I first tried this book as like a poetry collection. It's like my first love, like it's the genre that kind of first made me a writer. And besides like diary entries, I have been doing those since I was like seven years old. But as far as like the literary arts poetry is It's like my first thing. And I thought for a long time I would just only, write poetry books. But then I found myself stumped with talking about the things that I talk about in this book. So then I entertained the idea of maybe this is not the right genre for what I want to say and how I want to say it. Because poetry as all genres do memoir fiction as well. They have their like craft elements, right? When I pick up poetry, I'm thinking a lot about sound. I'm thinking about, sometimes like line form, et cetera. And I was feeling like, and poetry has a different allegiance than nonfiction to like the truth. So I was thinking about those things, and I was thinking what if I just said hey, this happened? How would that change what I'm writing? And also, what if I put this in paragraph forms? What if I have a little bit more allegiance to the sentence? I definitely am a poet that often is working in fragments, right? I'm not writing full sentences. But what if I did?

Jason Blitman:

So just to clarify, you mean, say, hey, this happened rather than something a little bit more colorful or metaphoric or alluding to something? Yeah.

KB Brookins:

What metaphor is there for being like black and trans? In the US, right? Like those kinds of questions that I was like thinking of as I was trying to attempt this book and I'm like, I just don't know if I can pick up a comparison maybe instead I need to pick up like the conventions of nonfiction where I'm just like, hey, let me tell you this story about me going to the gynecologist. Let me tell you this story about something that happened to me in, elementary school and has just continued to happen in different ways throughout my whole life, right? This like performance of not fitting into the conventions of a certain gender. So yeah, then I started writing some things and then after talking to, other journalists and essay writers and nonfiction writers about like, how do I get this out into the world? It was like, all of a sudden had training wheels again, and I was like learning. A whole new world, because nonfiction is, different than poetry in a lot of ways. But after I asked those questions, then I was able to place, individual pieces in HuffPost and Teen Vogue, etc., etc. And then I found that I was writing a lot about the same kind of three things that I named, queerness, masculinity, race. So then I was like, ah, shit, man, have I been writing a book? LAUGHS

Jason Blitman:

Surprise.

KB Brookins:

yeah. Then I did my little copy paste in Google Doc

Jason Blitman:

You're like, Oh, writing a book is pretty easy.

KB Brookins:

Yeah. Yeah. So I think it just, it really just started there. I was like these poems are not conveying the story in the way that I want. So maybe let me change the story form.

Brett Benner:

you do something so beautiful in the book too, like there was a section where you break down your Poetry piece, and then riff on each one of those items, which I thought was just so fantastic and inventive and really cool. I thought, wow, this is such an inventive way to tell this part of your story.

KB Brookins:

Oh, thanks.

Jason Blitman:

and to clarify for our read for our readers, our listeners who haven't read the book yet. What Brad is talking about is there's a chapter in particular that KB starts with a poem and then sort of line by line restates the line and then unpacks it a little bit for the entire poem. And I think it's, it was an exciting thing to experience for people who I think can find poetry scary.

Brett Benner:

yeah, it's all very accessible.

Jason Blitman:

At a point in the book, you talk in your, about how, you needed to gain language to contextualize your experience and that helped you understand you better. I feel like that is a very succinct and articulate way of talking about our moment in time right now. As a society, as queer people do you feel that to be true as well? Even 10 years ago, there weren't really conversations about. What it means to be non binary, what it means to be trans, people in the LGBTQIA plus community. There weren't as many letters 10 years ago, right? And so I think that now we're like building a vocabulary for our siblings within the community that like allow us to empathize with each other, but also to give individuals additional language To understand their own identity better. That's how I'm seeing this moment in time right now. And I'm curious if you feel that to be true.

KB Brookins:

Yeah, absolutely. I think this I want to say with the LGBTQIA two plus acronym expanding over time, I'm like, it's not that those identities didn't exist. I think that the greater population didn't know, right? And I think, even dating back the LGBT acronym to lesbian and gay some places are still called that, right? And I think it's just been a kind of, despite what the, political landscape would like us to believe it's just like more visibility of these kinds of communities, these subcultures within the queer and trans community that have always been there. And like I found, Writing this book, I think, even started with me just looking for a book about my experience, in the belly of the pandemic, early days in 2020, right? I all of a sudden just had all this silence, right? All of a sudden was like, okay, the world is stopping and now I have some time to think. And what I'm thinking a lot as I have had been for years What kind of things do I need to do in order to like feel completely me, right? And ultimately I decided to start the medical part of my transition. I got top surgery that year. I also started hormone replacement therapy in December of 2020. And then so I started seeing the perception of me change right in people's eyes, people who knew me, strangers, and like the socialization of gender is like so ingrained that people really do make just like split decisions on how to treat you. based on what gender they perceive you as, right? And it was a kind of like violent, rapid resocialization process of a black girlhood and into a black manhood. And I'm just like, I don't actually feel either of those ways. And also because of the socialization of black womanhood and black manhood, like both of those identities came with their own leg. Issues, right? At least to the outside world as in black girlhood. I think it's just like angry black women stereotype, right? So my anger was like painted in a certain way there. And then it's anytime that I was like, any kind of unhappy still to this day, right? Just based on what I look like, People have such a visceral reaction to my anger as if I'm gonna, blow up the place right because I'm right and there's this like fear associated with like black manhood. And how people perceive it so I was just finding those things really hard to feel right and see in front of me, and also feeling okay no matter how close I get to quote unquote passing, like there are just some like Social cues. There are some things that still make me stick out, right? So I was trying to find literature about that experience and I was coming up, blank, right? We have lots of trans memoirs that exist. How many black trans memoirs, right? How many black books about masculinity that are written by trans people, right? It was just like, so many roadblocks to finding myself, like represented in literature, represented in film and TV, represented in just media in general, right? So then I started writing about things and speaking to other trans people. People like me with similar identities about, the things that we face on the daily that feel like an enigma to people who don't live it, right? Going to the gynecologist trying to get your name and gender marker changed in Texas, where you have to have, a letter, from a doctor saying you have a gender identity disorder, right? Like just stuff like that, right? Or at least everyday things for me. And then also the trauma of growing up as a kid and trying actually like to fit into a girl mode or fit into gender in general and like coming across lots of adversity from the people around you to tell you don't fit in. When they could just let you like be whoever you are. So anyway, I started writing this in efforts to really write myself into history as lots of people over time have done, right? I think about books like Alicia Rothwego's Inverse Cowgirl. I think about the books that we're seeing now on like asexuality. They're like, Published, 10, 20 years ago. I even think about, the trailblazing books, the like first books of its kind, like Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg, right? And I think about, Gender Trouble by Judith Butler. And like, there are so many books out there that had to be like the first, right? I want us to move past first, right? I want us to move past like someone like me being compelled to write a memoir because they can't find a book. That is like their experience, right? And my experience is one that is not just me. There are lots of other people out in the world, like me, that deserve to have their life reflected back to them because it shows you, that you are not just like the only person ever living with your experience because that can feel very alienating. And I felt that a lot, growing up and I felt that even in 2020 when I was a grown adult, like trying to how can I know what to expect? And also how can I like, at least feel like. There is someone else out there, no matter how far away they are, that like, know what I'm seeing and can validate what I'm feeling.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. And to your point, all the letters have existed. It just. Because of things like social media, because of things like people with privilege and power are understanding that there is representation that needs to happen and are in turn making decisions and are gatekeeping in a more representative way. Suddenly access will be had to people, to the, to young you,

KB Brookins:

hmm.

Jason Blitman:

of Experience. All the letters, which I think, is really important. Okay. Wait, you there. You said you talk about three things and trauma being, I think a big topic, what is bringing you joy these days? What makes KB happy? I want to hear the good things. All this is good, but let's, I don't, let's talk about, what are you watching on tv?

KB Brookins:

Funny, so I decided to re watch all of Scandal while I'm on like, tour stuff. Because I was like, I need something for those times where I'm just like, two hours in the airport. Or

Brett Benner:

You need your Olivia Pope.

KB Brookins:

Exactly. I've been rewatching Scandal the past couple of weeks since my book came out on May 28th. And it's quite good storytelling. I don't know. I love like experiencing new stories. So that's what I'm watching right now. I just read. The book Beating Heart Baby by Leo Minton, and I found it very cute, like coming of age memoir about a trans guy and his boyfriend and them being a hot mess, I love witnessing other people's mess. I don't like mess in my personal life, but like finding it in media. I'm like, let me latch on to Yeah and I also read Cactus Country by Zoey Bastier recently. Shout out to Zoey.

Jason Blitman:

Who we had on the podcast.

KB Brookins:

a really amazing memoir yeah, on gender fluidity, class, growing up in Tucson. I also love reading stuff from, not the shit on LA or New York, but I'm like, that's 80 percent of the book industry. Like, when it's in a place that I am not familiar with and I can get familiar with it from somebody's writing it's a gift. I also recently read Dearborn by Hassan Kenedin. Spell check on that. But,

Brett Benner:

Yeah.

KB Brookins:

yeah, that was a really awesome short story collection. Just all of the stories being set in Dearborn, Michigan. Which has the highest, I think, Arab population in the U. S. Yeah, shout out to that book. It's very funny. And also tear jerking. And I love a book that can tear you apart. Take me on a roller coaster,

Jason Blitman:

No, I feel that.

Brett Benner:

Do you feel pretty? I

KB Brookins:

fun, because that's the title.

Brett Benner:

Know. And you talk about it as a pursuit and as a and so I'm curious in terms of as you continue to, as you continue to evolve as a human,

KB Brookins:

yeah. I think for a long time in my life, and then the life of other people that I've spoken to that have similar experiences as me like, it's just, you know, a black trans life can often be devoid of like softness. And Can be devoid of like people telling you that you're beautiful and that what you have to say matters. And this is in like Black communities. This is in queer communities. Like it feels extra effort has to be put in order for Black trans stories to happen. So for that reason, I see my book definitely as like an effort of me being, lovingly annoying for a number of years in order to get it out.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

KB Brookins:

And, also just look, right? Because I think, books that get published, they have a lot to do with timing. They have a lot to do with, do you have, that one editor, that one agent, that one, as Lady Gaga would say, a thousand people don't believe in you, but I love to say that in like lots of interviews. But yeah, it's just a matter of like, do the stars align? And I felt luckily so cared for by my community. And I've also felt no matter how many years I spent not feeling pretty I do now. So

Brett Benner:

I'm so glad.

Jason Blitman:

And to take that question, Brett and reframe that a tiny bit, at the end of the chapter titled Pretty you asked this question, and I will ask it. I will recontextualize it to ask you how does it feel to be here and let's say here right now, talking to us, publish the book in this moment in time, how does it feel to be here?

KB Brookins:

It feels awesome. I don't know if y'all have seen that a video of Tisha Campbell doing this song I'm still here, but that's how I feel. I feel like there are so many things, working against people like me, right? Mortality rates and, all of these other kind of statistics out there. Our legislature right now in Texas, but also like around the US, like the waves of anti trans laws, bills. It's a lot, it's a lot to wake up every day and feel like you have a target on your back just simply because you are who you are. And it's even worse, logging into Elon Musk's internet and anybody can say anything to you. But I think that it feels. really great to finally be here because this is a book is not just like a this is a thing I wrote. And then the next year it got published. Like it's usually like a multi year process of, lots of no's, lots of rejections. And also lots of moments where you're like, is this going to happen? So I'm happy to be past those moments. I'm like you can't take it back. It's already been printed. Happy to be at a place where I'm like, okay, it's real now that it's in hands that are not just mine and my editors. And I also feel just ready for, ready to make sure that the door doesn't like slam behind me, you know, like other memoirs like mine, other memoirs, wildly different than mine that are experiences that we are yet to know as a society as a queer community to burst forth and whatever I can do to help with that I'm ready to do it now that mine is, you know,

Brett Benner:

the one thing that has been so eyeopening even doing this podcast and what it's reiterated so much is why you hear this, but to actually know it and speaking. to you right now about the importance of representation and why it matters so much that these stories are out there for people to see and to see themselves and to recognize who they are and to know they're not alone. So thank you. And to put it in such a beautiful package is, I don't know, there's no question there. It's simply like I'm moved by it. Cause as I'm sitting here, I'm like, I'm very moved by it. So thank you.

KB Brookins:

I'm glad. I'm glad when anyone is not giving me, one star on Goodreads. Anytime. I'm happy.

Jason Blitman:

Also for us, cis white people to educate ourselves, we need to take responsibility. So there's that too. So I think it's, I think thanks also for giving us some context. But KB, congrats on the book.

Brett Benner:

it's fantastic. Yeah

Jason Blitman:

we can't wait for our listeners to check it out. I hope that all of the rest of your tour and other conversations and things will go well. I hope Olivia Pope keeps you cozy at night.

KB Brookins:

Thank y'all so much for having me. And thank you for uplifting, queer literature. It's really important, especially in these times. And it's always, I'm always happy to, come across the podcast and then look through the episodes and be like, ah, I know that person. I know that's always a good feeling. So thank y'all for making this easy.

Jason Blitman:

Oh, thank you so

Brett Benner:

Oh, thanks.

Jason Blitman:

KB, thank you so much for joining us today. and now let's go on over to Santiago Jose Sanchez to talk to us about their book, Hombrecito.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Good morning.

Jason Blitman:

How's your morning so far?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

good. I'm back home. I'm in Miami and I, of course, retreat into being a teenager and I'm like going to bed at 2 a. m. Like. watching Summer House and all the Bravo shows until like I can barely keep my eyes open.

Jason Blitman:

Wait, what are you doing in Miami though?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

The semester is over. So I usually live in Grinnell, Iowa, but I'm down here for the month. And I'm going to New York for June, and that's going to be my home base, I think, for the next couple months. But for now, I'm, like, hopping around.

Jason Blitman:

A little nomad.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Yeah, exactly.

Jason Blitman:

When you say Miami, though, do you mean Miami, or are you in Cooper City right now?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Cooper City. I'm in Cooper City right now.

Jason Blitman:

I'm obsessed that you're in Embassy Lakes. My mom literally was in Embassy Lakes at a friend's house last night,

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

It's so bizarre. so crazy. I've met other people who like grew up in this neighborhood and I'm like, it's just bizarre. I'm like how did I end up here? How did we all come out of this place?

Jason Blitman:

There were things that you said in the book that feel like nobody else knows except for me, like the Egyptian themed movie theater.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

You know which one I'm talking about?

Jason Blitman:

Do I know which one you're talking about? I remember when it was freaking built. And it was MovieCo still. Cause now it's not MovieCo anymore. Yeah, I think it's Cinemark.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Yeah. Yeah.

Jason Blitman:

But that was like the place to be! Yes! But this movie theater is in the middle of nowhere in its own space. And it's like this massive Egyptian theme building. And it's a movie theater.

Brett Benner:

It's just a movie theater. Wow.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

no sense. Since the good old days, they've built a lot of stuff around it and now it's not quite in the middle of nowhere, but like back when I was going there, it really did feel like. a random little like hole into another world like off the highway

Jason Blitman:

Yes, it was literally off the highway. You could see it from the highway. Just like this Egyptian

Brett Benner:

multiflex, and a multiplex. Wow.

Jason Blitman:

it's like movie code 24 or whatever.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

oh my god jason

Jason Blitman:

Am I wrong? No.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

oh

Jason Blitman:

one of the first, one of the first gay bars, I think, I, one of the first like clubs that I ever went to was the Manor,

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

my goodness

Jason Blitman:

also comes up in the book. And I was like, Oh my God, did we have the same childhood?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

i mean that place i don't know it was so weird it's 18 plus so you could like I was in high school, so I wasn't 18, but I was still getting in there.

Jason Blitman:

So funny. Anyway, enough about Florida. Santiago, congrats on your debut.

Brett Benner:

It's so gorgeous. It's gorgeous. It's really, it's so beautiful. And you're getting like superlative, like Kirk is star, publisher's weekly star. It's so well deserved and it's really incredible to see.

Jason Blitman:

You said this is your first conversation about the book.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Yeah, this is the first time I'm talking with people about it

Jason Blitman:

We'll start off with an easy one. Can you tell us your elevator pitch for the book? I say easy one, but this is really everyone's least favorite question.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

well, Hombrecito, it's a coming of age of a queer young immigrant from Colombia. And it follows him and his family when they moved to Miami and the mother starts working a lot. The half brother starts to revel and gets into this relationship. And this leaves Santiago, the narrator, the main character. Alone, isolated, and in this space, he has room to explore his queerness and sexuality, and he does from a very young age. No remorse just goes straight into this very sexual, erotic, drug fueled life at times, too. And this is great for them, but it also comes with, this loss of family and home. And that sort of haunts him. His relationship with his mother becomes really salient and important to him. But it also, becomes like a great source of tension the more time goes by. And so finally they return for the first time together to Colombia, he and the mother. And during this trip he reconnects with his father, with his homeland, and he gets to see a different side of his mom that he's never seen. So it's a queer coming of age, but it's also very much about family and how family comes apart and then together. And how complicated mother son relationships can be as well.

Jason Blitman:

So you just said your protagonist's name is Santiago. Your name is Santiago. You said they came from Colombia. You are Colombian American. What degree of auto fiction is this? What do you, but. Was it a direct parallel to your own life? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Brett Benner:

Inspired by?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

I really do think of this as really again with Abandoned, this is autofiction. This is very much maps onto my life. I was very much interested in The physical, emotional, material reality of my experience and reconnecting with it and creating this character that would just let me sit in these very intense moments of my life through fiction. I notoriously have a terrible memory and a lot of these things I actually don't remember. So it also was like an act of trying to reconnect with this past that I don't remember or that I only really know through family stories. And trying to find my own place in this narrative, how to, how, being the youngest the younger one of us in the family being quiet and reserved when I was younger too very impressionable, so this book too was like an act of like me stepping back into those places and, Capturing a fuller story that spoke more to me and my reality than others or to, yeah, what was lost in that move and coming to America and all the things that like, yeah, just because of that distance and trauma I think I forgot a lot of it. Yeah, no, it's very much auto fiction and I like claiming it that way. I think people today are like afraid of saying like this is autofiction. I don't know, maybe autofiction now carries a little bit of a smell with it. But I like don't care at all. I'm like, I love writers like Edouard Louis and Natalia Ginsberg, who are like, are very much this is a novel, but everyone in here is real. This is all real. And I'm in the same boat there. This feels really real to me.

Jason Blitman:

Yeah. I almost feel like the difference between autofiction and memoir is autofiction, you have space to grapple with things, to pull apart things in a way, and address things, and almost comment on things in a way that one doesn't really do in memoir, right? A memoir, you're really telling your story, right? It's this is the story as remembered to the best of my ability, whereas it almost sounds like what you were doing is using fiction to grapple with this piece of your life,

Brett Benner:

Like a framework.

Jason Blitman:

We're using the framework of your real life. I think that's really cool.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

And I wanted it to feel like immersive, and I wanted it to feel like you're in the story, like in these moments as Santiago is experiencing them. So it was very much to me like what fiction tries to do, like it tries to make you feel somebody else's life, like it's not just like showing or telling this other person's life, it's really putting you in there in those moments. So that feels to me like the imaginative act is like the fiction part and autofiction is like recreating this thing from scratch and the whole like experience around it. Or yeah, I think memoir is very much I remember it this way. This is how things happened. This isn't quite that.

Jason Blitman:

So Santiago in the story, saying story sounds so minimizing. In the novel, Santiago says that loneliness was the beginning of voyeurism. What do you mean by that?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

I think this is something for him and for me that like feels really emotionally true is that being isolated and alone like you just grab on to other people from a distance and you experience the world through other people like watching how other people live. So I think that was like a really big part of this character. Once he gets to Miami an outsider. He, even when he's there's that trip that he takes to Naples, the camping grounds with his best friends. And even in this experience, like he's a voyeur, he's the visitor, he's not part of this family, but like he's always experiencing like what could be, what could my life be like if they were just a little bit different, if things have been just like shifted by a degree, by an inch. That could have been his life, and that's, I think, a feeling that really carries him and defines the way he moves through the world, always looking for a proxy or a surrogate of what life could be like if things were different.

Jason Blitman:

You early on said, this is a mother son story. Santiago feels the need to take care of everything it feels very like, quote unquote, gay son stereotype, or do you find that to be true? Did you find that to be your situation? Do you find that to be true for you? Folks that you are familiar with.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

My gosh yeah, I think there's this real need for him, Santiago, the character, and maybe for me too, to be one to make the story happen, to be a protagonist in the story. But I think there's also these moments, like you said about loneliness and isolation, like He's with his mother, He's planned this trip back to Columbia taking care of all the details and costs even but as soon as he enters the hotel with his mom, the whole aura of it starts to disintegrate and that's something, too the, that loneliness within that relationship, that the mother is only aware of certain parts of his life, and that he feels like he's aware of all the parts of her life, that he has to carry that weight of her whole life But I think something that I was trying to do in that chapter, too, was trying to show that the mom also has her secrets, also has this other double life so I was trying to queer code her a little bit there, too they both have these double lives Santiago just, because he's young and innocent in this way still doesn't realize yet that his mom is also this bigger character, has this bigger story than him, but that trip was, like, a big realization for him They're back, presumably, to visit the grandmother who's ill. I think Santiago had the idea that this was going to be like a homecoming, that they were going to do a bunch of fun things and be almost like tourists in like their hometown. And very quickly he realizes oh no, like the mother's there to actually sit with the grandma at her bedside the whole time. And he's oh fuck this is not what I thought this was going to be. And I think there's a real urge for them to work his way back into that story, to try to be the responsible son, or, like the title, an hombrecito a good little boy. And he tries to return to that, but at the same time That's not satisfying to him or it's satisfying but complicated and there's still like this bigger hunger and I mean something that Santiago does all throughout this book is turn to sex and moments of loneliness or Anxiety or lack of

Brett Benner:

Never do that.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

No, right? We'd never do that. So in that way, yeah, I totally see the gay I think that's so part of the gay experience,

Jason Blitman:

Yeah.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

sex is all these beautiful things, but also it's like this very real way of looking for connection or looking for control in moments where other parts of your life don't allow you that.

Jason Blitman:

Brandon Taylor calls the book a gorgeous novel of the in between. What does the in between mean to you?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

I really like that. And he also said the quiet lol or something like that. I don't know, this book is in these moments of voyeurism and there's something really interesting, I think, about the structure of this book, that one it came about because I wrote this short stories at first. I wasn't aware, I wasn't trying to write a big arc I was really just moving towards these little centers of heat and trying to write about, like, why am I interested in this moment? Why do I keep returning to this?

Jason Blitman:

And by short stories, do you mean journal entries?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

And that was the hard part. Trying to like, part of the writing this too is I felt really close to this character when I first started writing it. And the more time that like, as these accumulated they end up being like almost like these 14 moments. That were separated and are these transitional moments in his life. So I think the in between one is like a structural thing there is very little connective tissue between the chapters I'm dropping you in and out of these moments. And I think the in between too it comes from The in between I think of emotions and experience like a lot of the things like he's experiencing here are joyful, but heartbreaking. They're humorous, but also dreadful. So I don't know there was something to your I was like in every moment like I was. Whatever emotion I felt like I was working with, I was also trying to find its opposite or its counterpart. Because I think that's I don't know, part of that engaging with these as memories, as fiction, too. It was trying to find that emotional complexity, too, that maybe, yeah, that the novel, I think, has room for. Whereas, maybe memoir doesn't allow that space.

Brett Benner:

Yeah. I'm so curious. Has she, or have you let your mom read it?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

No, I haven't she hasn't read it she has permission to she has a copy. She doesn't really read much in english. So i'm hoping that once we get the spanish translation like You She really will read it. She knows about like things in the story and I mean she's been a great help. Helped me with a lot of this like memory work of like, where's some details I could add into here? What did we call this? So she's very much aware that This is a story of like our family. So I mean I have her permission. She

Brett Benner:

Yeah, but it's also, it's interesting because it's also a story out, arguably about parts of you that she, that whole idea of the perception of what she thinks or the mother thinks of her son and what the son actually, or who the son actually is.

Jason Blitman:

You can just let her know that the stuff she knows about, that's the stuff that's true and everything she doesn't know about, that's the stuff you made up.

Brett Benner:

all fictional. That's right. As told to you by a

Jason Blitman:

That's why it's called auto fiction. That's some of it's auto, some of it's fiction. So in our last couple of minutes, you are a debut author. This is your debut book. Do you have other books that you want to shout out that you want on other people's radar?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Yeah these aren't debuts necessarily, but Housemates by Emma Coakley Eisenberg. I've been loving it.

Jason Blitman:

We just talked to her yesterday.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Oh my gosh. Amazing. I'm upset. I also finished recently Patrick Nathan's new book, The Future Was Color. So sexy and smart and I love his prose. It's just really dense and juicy. It's such a good read and I think the LA Times is doing like their book club this summer on it. So that'll be really cool. And I'm really excited for Garth's new books Small Rain. I'm so excited for that. Yeah, but they'd be specifically, I'm thinking my friend Ruben Reyes has this collection coming out. I think Melissa also talked about it. There's also a Rio Grande in Heaven, and I was classmates with him. I've read some of these stories before, and it's a short story collection that's sci fi, speculative, but very much grounded in the realities of immigrant life in America and on the border. And I think, yeah, there's, I've seen a lot of good buzz around it, and I'm so excited for him. I think he's younger than me. That's always pisses me off. I'm like, when you're younger than me and like really talented, I'm like, damn, what did I do wrong?

Jason Blitman:

You're young too! Shut up!

Brett Benner:

You're a baby. Look at all you've accomplished. That's incredible.

Jason Blitman:

So funny. Congrats on the book.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Thank you. It's so nice to meet you guys both. You guys are doing something so beautiful here. I hope you guys are really proud of it. It's really cool to see this podcast grow and just the people that you get. I'm always like, it's like amazing, great, talented

Jason Blitman:

thank you so much for your kind

Brett Benner:

You were

Jason Blitman:

We, we love all of our other pals and we're super grateful for everyone for

Brett Benner:

Yeah,

Jason Blitman:

being interested in participating. So it means a lot.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Yeah, get those gays reading. Gays need to read more.

Brett Benner:

they do.

Jason Blitman:

I

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

reading enough.

Brett Benner:

They really do.

Jason Blitman:

Eat a public sub for me. No, not publics is canceled. You have to get one from the spot as

Brett Benner:

What happened to Publix?

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Yeah, what happened to

Jason Blitman:

they're just, I'm just not as good. They're not actually canceled, but let's spot us. Let's spot us subs are so good.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Okay, wait, is that a sub place or is it like a supermarket too with

Jason Blitman:

No, it's a sandwich place.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Just a sandwich, please. Okay. Okay. Noted. Noted.

Jason Blitman:

a supermarket, publix is canceled simply because Las Padas is better. But listen, I would not turn down a Publix sub if you sent me one.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

Hey, that chicken tender sandwich, so good. It'll put you to sleep though

Jason Blitman:

I'm so old that I used to get the chicken tender sandwich before it was on the menu. I made it up.

Brett Benner:

that was your hidden menu before there

Jason Blitman:

It, Literally was a hidden menu. I know. Anyway, all right.

Brett Benner:

Have a great rest

Jason Blitman:

Enjoy Florida. Talk to you soon.

Santiago Jose Sanchez:

you guys. big hugs. Bye.

Jason Blitman:

thank you. KB, Kimberly. Thank you all so much for being here. Make sure to check out their books, We Remember the Universe, Pretty, and Ombresito. All of those can be found in our bookshop. org page. and we will see you on Thursday.

Brett Benner:

Yes.

Jason Blitman:

Bye!

Brett Benner:

I.