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October 2, 2009

Julia Amante: Creating Worlds

Posted by webmaster
Julia Amante's Evenings at the Argentine Club is the story of two couples, and their children, who face the challenges of building a life in a new country. In today's guest post, she talks about how she found inspiration for her first novel close to home.

here to read an interview with Julia.

For the longest time, I was convinced that my father's sole goal in life was to make my life miserable. Starting with when I was born. Most immigrants are happy to have their children born in America, right? Well my father was the exception. Living in New York at the time I was due, my father decided that my very pregnant mother should fly to Argentina to give birth --- because he was sure I was going to be a boy and he wanted an Argentine son.

Surprise, he got me!

Not that being born in Argentina is bad --- it's a fabulous country. The problem was that I lived here in the U.S. and being an Argentine citizen was about as useful as the snow boots I keep in my closet in Southern California for the few times we visit my husband's family in Maine. Although, it did give me the amazingly joyous pleasure of dealing with U.S. immigration once I became an adult and decided I should become a U.S. citizen.

My father made these kinds of wacky decisions throughout my life --- all to inconvenience me, of course.

On the more serious side, I didn't understand what motivated this man. He was perpetually unhappy with his life in America and spoke constantly of returning to Argentina. Yet, he never did.

Then a few years back, my grandmother gave me a notebook that contained letters that my father and grandfather wrote to each other when my father first moved to America. I couldn't believe the man who wrote those letters was the same guy I knew as my dad. He LOVED America. He was so excited about moving here, and he had so many dreams of what his life would become. He was positive and enthusiastic and had a boyish love of life. Every goal was possible. Reading the letters was eye-opening for me, and in the back of my mind I knew I would someday write a story based on these letters.

Evenings at the Argentine Club became that story. The book is about the hard choices immigrants have to make when they come to this country, and suggests that the "American Dream" isn't always the magic of the movies. It shows that those who do make it have to sacrifice a lot. I also explore the relationship between second generation Americans and their immigrant parents.

Sadly, my dad's American dream never worked out. He died rather tragically in a traffic accident where he drove his vehicle off a cliff rather than hit a woman who ran into his path on a dark highway. In Evenings at the Argentine Club, I decided to write a story where dreams do come true.

Today, I know that my father would read my book with a smile, knowing that I finally understood exactly what he'd been after. He would tell me that I created the world he would have loved to live.

---Julia Amante