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Sergio Rivera-Ayala’s Book Strikes (out) Again

This is the book drama that just won’t die (or keeps on giving, depending on your perspective). Remember back when I got an email purporting to come from a non-existent Carleton student? And then the comments on that post got really interesting really fast? And remember when Steve Lawson shed a little light on the less savory aspects of those comments? And then remember when Steve later got unpleasant emails that were also copied to his boss and dean and college president?

Yesterday I got the following bogus email [see update below]:

—– Original Message —–
From: “Tamesis Books” <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 1:00:09 PM
Subject: New Title from Tamesis Books

Dear librarian,

Tamesis Books is pleased to announce the release of the book, El discurso colonial en textos novohispanos: espacio, cuerpo y poder by Sergio Rivera-Ayala. This study builds on recent work in discourse analysis and the critique of representation that is developing in such fields as anthropology, history, and transatlantic studies. Engaging with a wide variety of texts, such as Colón’s Diario, Vespucio’s Lettera, Sigüenza y Góngora’s Alboroto y motín, Cervantes de Salazar’s México en 1554, Balbuena’s Grandeza mexicana, and Clavijero’s Historia antigua de México, it traces the origins and uses of geopolitical knowledge from classical times to eighteenth-century colonial Mexico, and provides new perspectives on ethnicity, gender, European subjectivity, and the constructions of colonial geographies. This book goes beyond previous readings of the texts, by suggesting new directions for the analysis and interpretation of spatiality, corporeality and agency in colonial Spanish America.

Sergio Rivera-Ayala is Assistant Professor at the University of California, Riverside. We are attaching a sell sheet to purchase the book for your convenience. We think this book will be a great addition to your Spanish and Latin American collections.


Tamesis Books

668 Mt. Hope Ave., Rochester, NY 14620 USA • 585-275-0419 (tel) • 585-271-8778 (fax) • •

The “” part of that publisher’s email address seemed a little weird to me, particularly since the publisher’s web site listed different contact information, so I called Tamesis and received confirmation that this is not their email address. The Commissioning Editor wrote to me today saying that not only is this not their email address, but that they are not the source for selling this book. She apologized that I’m receiving this “propaganda,” and said that they may now have to seek legal advice since their name has been used in this way.

One more string of facts (which may or may not be related), and then I’ll indulge in some minor speculation.

Back in September, when I received the first pseudonymous comment on the original blog post, I emailed Sergio Rivera-Ayala at his UC-Riverside email address to alert him to the fact that odd things were happening in connection with his book. That first comment originated from an IP address in the Waterloo area. Less than four hours later, I received the second comment. This one had the same (vulgar) email address that’s visible only to me as the blog owner, but this one originated from a VPN network of UC-Riverside. By an odd coincidence, Sergio Rivera-Ayala is a visiting assistant professor at UC-Riverside and an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo. (Or rather, he was at that time a professor at UC-Riverside. His staff page at UC-Riverside has 404ed.)

So, the minor speculation? Well, I’ll leave speculation about sock-puppets and their puppeteers to you. Right now, I can only imagine that there’s a hope that if Tamesis gets inundated with requests for this book, that maybe they’ll consider a second printing.

UPDATE: I learned that I can find the originating IP addresses for emails sent to me. Have a look at what WhoIs turned up.

Published inRandom Thoughts


  1. After reading this article, for myself, I wonder what is a polite, acceptable way of approaching a librarian who might be interested in your book?

    I already have two strikes against me in that Injuring Eternity is a poetry collection with a small press; however, I have received good reviews and my awards include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and as a Portuguese-American writer, I am part of a small group of hispanic writers who are just recently gathering speed as a literary group. Individually I have targeted libraries in PA communities and libraries that might be interested due to the subject matter. My book is not BIG enough to be reviewed in Publishers Weekly. I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks!

  2. Hi Millicent, I think the main lesson from the Sergio situation is not to approach librarians by impersonating students, faculty, and publishers, all while using sexually explicit email addresses. So you’re already WAY ahead of the game by wanting to be polite.

    I’m not a collection development librarian, so I’m probably not the best person to ask, but I know that when I do buy books it’s because I saw it reviewed in a reputable source. So at least in my small corner of the library world, the best advice I have is to get your work reviewed in one of the academic or professional journals for poetry, in one of the publications that’s primarily geared toward reviews, in news sources (even small local ones may catch the eye of a local library), or in something similar.

    Best of luck!

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