Posts Tagged ‘Cidra’

PRdream mourns the passing of Edgardo Vega Yunqué

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Edgardo Vega Yunqué
1936-2008

He was born May 20, 1936, a date to be commemorated because he was truly a great writer and contributed to a transnational, transcultural body of literature that is so much a part of what New York City really is all about.

(excerpted from The Daily News) The author of 17 novels, who was born in Cidra, Puerto Rico, and lived alone in Brooklyn, died at Lutheran Hospital on Aug. 25, said his agent Tom Colchie. Ed Vega Yunqué was “a great American writer as well as a great Puerto Rican writer,” he added. Vega Yunqué’s novels, such as ‘Blood Fugues’ and ‘Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle,’ are modern classics.” His first novel ‘The Comeback’ was published in 1985.

Ed Vega Yunqué moved to New York from Puerto Rico in the mid 1940s. He was the stepfather of singer Suzanne Vega. The feisty writer was the director of the Clemente Soto Velez from 1993 to 2000.

His last novel was a comic false memoir about a Jewish woman who meets a Puerto Rican Romeo and falls in love. It had been tentatively titled “Rebecca Horowitz, Puerto Rican Sex Freak” but publication was cancelled by the publisher recently, said Colchie, who’d been trying to find another publisher.

FUNERAL SERVICES for Edgardo Vega Yunqué, 1936-2008

Monday, Sept 15, 2008
6:00pm-8:00pm
Soka Gakkai International-USA
7 East 15th Street
New York, NY 10003
212-727-7715

A TRIBUTE TO EDGARDO VEGA YUNQUE

Saturday, November 15, 3PM – 7PM
PRdream/MediaNoche
1355 Park Avenue, Corner Store
at East 102nd Street in Manhattan

A non-stop, ongoing reading of Ed Vega’s “The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle” — Magical Realism comes to Loisaida (and now El Barrio)! Bring your copy!

We are looking for readers who would like to sign up to seriously work on reading for ten to fifteen minutes. Please contact Judy at escalona@prdream.com.

TRIBUTE TO ED VEGA YUNQUE _ NOVEMBER 15, 3PM -7PM AT PRDREAM, 1355 Park Ave at 102nd St

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

vega-yunque.190.jpg

NOVEMBER 15 TRIBUTE: A non-stop, ongoing reading of Ed Vega’s “The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle” — Magical Realism comes to Loisaida (and now El Barrio)! Bring your copy!

*****

September 9, 2008
Edgardo Vega Yunqué, Novelist of the Puerto Rican Experience in New York, Dies at 72

By BRUCE WEBER
Edgardo Vega Yunqué, whose novels and stories about life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan were picaresque, combustive and sometimes flamboyantly comic expressions of the Puerto Rican experience in New York’s multicultural maelstrom, died on Aug. 26 in Brooklyn. He was 72 and lived in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The cause was probably a blood clot, said his daughter, Alyson Vega, who said that he died suddenly during a visit to the emergency room at Lutheran Medical Center and that his family had not been immediately notified.

Mr. Vega Yunqué, who moved to New York from Puerto Rico at the age of 13 and spent his teenage years in a Puerto Rican and Irish neighborhood in the Bronx, resisted characterization both as a writer and as an individual. Angered by the expectation of Latin writers either to document ghetto life or to “dabble in magic realism,” as he put it, he was known as a contentious man with a philosophy founded on the sanctity of self-expression, and he wrote with a voice that was lyrical, insistent, irrepressible and often scathingly satiric.

In “The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisada Jungle,” (Overlook Press, 2004), he cast a comic, sardonic eye on the American response to the Sept. 11 attacks. His latest book, “Rachel Horowitz, Puerto Rican Sex Freak,” an earthy send-up of sexual politics, was scheduled for publication this summer but Overlook canceled it after a dispute with him.

“He was an iconoclast of the first order,” said his agent, Tom Colchie. “Ed was always cantankerous about editing. He would say, ‘I’m not going to be any publisher’s fuzzy-wuzzy.’ ”

With a counterculture-ish perspective and a penchant for florid turns of phrase and hyper-punctuated sentences, he had a literary relative in Tom Robbins, though his work often had a political fierceness about it as well.

His best-known book, “No Matter How Much You Promise to Cook or Pay the Rent You Blew It Cauze Bill Bailey Ain’t Never Coming Home Again” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), is a sprawling tale of two families, one Puerto Rican and one Irish, and their intertwining over several generations. The Vietnam War plays a central role and so does American jazz, not only thematically — one main character is a pianist who walks away from the chance to play with Miles Davis when he joins the Marines — but stylistically as well, with narrative strains wandering improvisatorily away from the main tale and finding intricate paths that bring them back again. Julia Livshin, writing in The New York Times Book Review, said it was a “powerhouse of a novel” that “brings vividly to life, with its polyphony of voices, the simmering ethnic stew of the great American city.”

Edgardo Alberto Vega Yunqué was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on May 20, 1936, but he was raised in the town of Cidra. His father, a Baptist minister, moved the family to New York in 1949 when he took over a Spanish-speaking congregation in the South Bronx. Mr. Vega Yunqué was a radio operator in the Air Force, and during one home leave, he was asked by his sister to help clean out an estate in central New York. In the attic he found hundreds of paperback novels — by Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemingway and others — and he began reading them voraciously. That spurred him to write novels.

Mr. Vega Yunqué attended New York University and worked as a community organizer before publishing his first novel, “The Comeback,” in 1985. His other works include two collections of stories and the novel “Blood Fugues.” (HarperCollins, 2006.) In 1994, he founded the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center on the Lower East Side as a home for theater artists, dancers and visual artists, and he ran it until 2000, when he stepped down, his tenure marred by fierce disputes between the mostly Hispanic theater artists and the mostly white visual artists over the center’s management.

Mr. Vega’s marriage to Pat Vega ended in divorce, the culmination of what his daughter, Alyson, and his stepdaughter, the singer Suzanne Vega, described as a tempestuous home life. Her stepfather was passionate about knowledge and passed that zeal on, Suzanne Vega said. “But the thing that made him a great writer was the thing that also made him dangerous,” she added. “Any boundary or restriction he took as a red flag.”

In addition to Suzanne and Alyson Vega, both of Manhattan, Mr. Vega Yunqué is survived by a son, Matthew, of Amagansett, New York; a brother, Jay Vega, of Cape May, N.J.; a sister, Abigail McGlynn, of Queens; and a granddaughter.