Local author to read her book 'Choke' for Banned Book Week

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Oct. 1, 2012 at 5:01 a.m.

"Choke" is a book by University of Houston-Victoria lecturer Diana López.

"Choke" is a book by University of Houston-Victoria lecturer Diana López.

Their bloodshot eyes caught her attention.

Her students had been strangling themselves to achieve a brief high.

Diana López, a former San Antonio middle school teacher, wrote a book about the craze, titled "Choke."

Now a University of Houston-Victoria English lecturer, López will read from the book Tuesday night at the Victoria College/UHV Library.

The reading is part of the the library's observance of Banned Book Week.

The book is about the choking game that made national headlines in 2008.

"I just felt like something was needed to address young people," López said. "They won't read reports."

The craze caused 82 probable deaths from 1995 to 2007 among students ages 6 to 19, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I needed a new project to work on, I decided on the middle school genre." López said. "They question things that as adults we've stopped questioning, but for them they still seem absurd."

The author taught eighth grade at Horace Mann Middle School for about nine years.

In March, the Mexican-American author participated in "Librotraficante," which means "book trafficker."

A caravan of authors and advocates of Latino literature "smuggled" books banned by the Tucson Unified School District on a roadtrip from Houston to Arizona.

"It was a weeklong, six-city caravan," said Liana Lopez, Librotraficante media communications coordinator.

Their goal was to bring attention to the TUSD banning more than 80 books and lawsuits that were part of a dismantled Mexican-American studies program.

Of the books included on the banned list was "Bless Me Ultima," which López said was one of the first books she read by a Mexican-American author.

"It was the first time I had encountered a book from someone in my culture," López said.

Two books written by UHV writer-in-residence Dagoberto Gilb, "Woodcuts of Women," and "The Magic of Blood," were banned as well.

"I was honored," Gilb said. "I felt like I had made it."

Gilb and López are part of CentroVictoria, a nonprofit directed at promoting Mexican-American literature.

"When you don't have access to stories that are like yours, you won't feel like your life is worth writing about," López said. "That's what makes this Tucson thing so scary."



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