My mother was a career immigration expert who busted fraud. I was in love with my best friend (just not in the sex-having way) and wanted to marry him so he could stay in the country — with me.
We lived together, shared everything (apartment, bank accounts, grocery shopping, everyday activities and adventures), and I never would believe our marriage anything but legitimate. Mom had more stringent definitions. In this country, when laws are unjust, unfair, and wrong, we change them. Having the power to change laws and ideas that the culture has evolved beyond is part of what makes the U.S. so great.
Here, my mom and I discuss our diverging views on TV. Check us out and chime in with your own perspective in the comments!
The Marriage Act is officially out, and it has been an interesting day. While life continues on as normal in happy little beach town–attempting to housebreak a potbellied pig, having a creative meeting over coffee with a friend, biking home in the sun, eating a Mediterranean Veggie Wrap from a deli–there’s been a whole lot of simultaneous online stuff brewing about the book…from where I sit, it feels like something happening over in a parallel dimension. I muse over the label of “controversy,” as an article in the New York Post–the cover story for the Pulse section puts it. They used the headline (in the print edition) “I was in a sham marriage,” which is what I want to address. I know what the headline writers are going for, but if you read the book, it is actually about revealing all the ways it was NOT a “sham” at all. (And I hate the word sham.) The article itself gets at the more nuanced notions of love, commitment, humor, and keeping someone you love with you, which are main ideas in the book. Calling it a sham may sell newspapers, but what I want to retort here is that I myself never used that word. Never would. Because it simply wasn’t. Which brings me back to the book’s original question: “who gets to decide what is real?” What kinds of love are “valid” or “invalid”–can there be such determining factors? The article spawned a few others, here and here, which pilfered photos from my Facebook page. My intent isn’t a complaint; I’m not easily offended or put off and was amused to see the random Facebook photos there–I prefer a healthy engagement (no pun intended) with difficult, complex subject matter–but what does interest me in looking at this is the nature of the times we’re living in. Everyone has a forum, or at least a (blogging) platform. We have online profiles carefully tailored to convey crafted personas of ideal selves. Everyone has the potential to be connected to everyone else. All material is fair game, public property, part of the commons. And once an author puts a story out there, there is very little she can control about interpretation and reaction. That’s part of what is so beautiful, frightening, and frighteningly beautiful about creating–and releasing–your art, and the ideas that matter most to you in the world.
What do you think? I welcome email and comments, even from the crazy basement people, with your thoughts on the book, the topic of love and marriage and how we define it today.
If you read the book (and I hope you will!) I hope you enjoy it and find some food for thought in there….
I have loved and gleaned so much from this conference for the past few years. This year, with The Marriage Act forthcoming and a lot to think about re. what’s next, the changing publishing industry, etc, I’m excited to be a part of the conversation. If you’re heading to AWP in Boston, come check out one of my panels and let’s go to some of the fun social events too.
Don’t things always come full circle? In college, when I knew I wanted to become a writer, I was double-majoring in film and creative writing, planning to pursue a career in screenwriting (as always, if I could figure out how). When I moved to New York after two years in L.A., though, I landed a job in publishing, and started writing the beginnings of the novel that became Mexican High. I figured I would make my way back to screenwriting eventually, somehow, but that it would probably happen on its own when the time was right.
When Alex Garinger, fellow former intern at City magazine got in touch with me after the Profiler essay came out in the Times, with news that his production company wanted to option the story for a romantic comedy (he and I hadn’t been in touch for about six years!) it was one of those right-thing-at-the-right-time situations. Five All in the Fifth and their article on The Profiler.
My mother The Profiler and I were interviewed by Bob Carlson of KCRW’s show UnFictional. KCRW, Southern California’s NPR station, has long been my favorite radio station–I stream it almost daily–so I was really excited when Bob contacted me about doing the Valentine’s Day show. While The Profiler and I spoke with him from the studios of KUSP in Santa Cruz.
Check out the show here! The story is currently being developed into a screenplay and novel!
I’m so excited to announce my second book! From Publishers Marketplace:
December 14, 2012
Liza Monroy’s THE MARRIAGE ACT, about the author’s years spent wed to her Middle Eastern gay best friend in order to keep him in the United States, while her mother worked for the US Government preventing immigration fraud, to Delia Casa at Skyhorse, for publication in fall 2013, by Jennifer Lyons at the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency (World except German and Korean).