Hijo de Cronica

I went to the library tonight to look up the book on cronicas. I walked there and back--first time in a while I'd done my three miles. So now I know more about the Mexican cronica. It seems it's more a reportorial form, an urban sketch, a witness, than the personal cronicas of Clarice Lispector. I don't know enough to talk about how this reflects on the differences between Mexican and Brazilian culture and society. I read one essay that compares the Mexican essay with the Mexican cronica. Apparently the essay is more serious and expository and the cronica can be more playful and descriptive. One writer says his cronicas are ephemeral and another says his are poetic.

So why does this matter? Why do I want to know? Why am I reaching across the border to find a name for what I'm writing? It already has a name. It's right there in the URL: blogspot.com. But I want to know how to shape this thing, this chronicle thing, of mine. It's called Cancer Bitch, so it must be about cancer. I must be a bitch writing about cancer. Or bitching about cancer. Or being bitchy about it. But I know I'm not bitchy all the time here. Though I know I'm doing more than kvetching here. (Which reminds me of a book review I read in Bookforum by Rachel Shteir in which she coins the word kvetchungsroman--a variation of Bildungsroman, or novel of growing up.)

This self-self-self gazing has come upon me because I sent out queries to about a dozen agents about making this into a book, and most of them wrote back to say that there are a lot of cancer memoirs out there now, they're a hard sell. One wrote to ask for the first 30 pages, so I'm revising them. She also wrote: "As you know we represent the late Miriam Engelberg which is why we are uncertain about trying to sell another cancer memoir." I didn't know that. I should have known that. Engelberg wrote my favorite cancer book, the graphic memoir, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person. I wanted to write back to ask if the agent was uncertain because she doesn't want another author to die on her, or if she's uncertain because that book didn't do well. It's black and white, much more crudely drawn than the graphic memoir Cancer Vixen, but it's funnier and depicts the life of a more normal person. Engelberg lived in San Francisco and worked for a non-profit. Cancer Vixen's author is a glamorous cartoonist who sells to the New Yorker and is married to the owner of a very "in" restaurant in Manhattan. Fashion models throw themselves at her husband. She requested light chemo so that she wouldn't lose her hair. She wears high-heeled designer shoes. So does her oncologist.

So I am asking myself what is this blog/book I'm writing? Is it the Jew in Chemolandia? Should it be the Jew in Chemolandia? What market niche can I curl my one-breasted self into? All my serious writing life, I've been told my work is marginal, not mainstream, and now I'm being told it's too mainstream. Well, I can't help it that breast cancer's an epidemic.

Which brings us to the thinking about cronicas. If I'm writing cronicas here, then what I'm writing has a form, it's valid. My cancer writing can be cronicas and I can digress and write about birds and books or the city, too. This logic makes sense to me. I don't know if it makes sense to anyone else. Or then again, I might just be lazy. Maybe I should limit this to cancer and I should do research (like I said I would) on breast cancer in Iraq and cancer in county hospital.
But I don't want to write about cancer all the time. L and I talked about this. I said, I should write Cancer Bitch Solves a Mystery. And he said, Yes, yes.