Today I thought it would be fun to highlight Cinco Puntos, an independent publisher whose mission is to publish “great books which make a difference in the way you see the world.”
If you’d told us some twenty-six years ago when we first cooked up plans for Cinco Puntos in our house that we’d be meeting anyone out in cyberspace this many years later, we would have been amazed. And we still are amazed, because publishing is one miraculous business. To watch a book unfold, to watch it find its audience and its life in the hands of a reader is a stunningly miraculous business.
We are Bobby and Lee Byrd, owners and publishers of Cinco Puntos. We started Cinco Puntos Press in 1985. We are a small, very independent publishing company rooted here in El Paso, Texas, not three miles north of the U.S. Mexican Border. We are both writers. We started Cinco Puntos because we wanted more time to write and we found as we have moved further and further into the publishing life, that publishing, like writing, is an act of self-discovery. Every book takes us to a new place. Each book leads us into unexpected intellectual terrains. These are places we might have never experienced without the provocation of new books and the business of making and selling them.
Publishing, like writing, is an organic process. We don’t know exactly what the book will become when we first see it in manuscript, but in the give and take between us and the author and, as it passes through our hands as editors, and through the hands of the people we work with who translate or design or illustrate the text, it becomes something new, different, and wonderful—a true collaboration.
You should check out some of their award-winning and upcoming young adult titles:
It’s crazy! Fifteen-year-old Masi Burciaga’s neighborhood is becoming more and more of a ghost town since the lard company moved away. Her school closed down. Her family’s bakery and the other surviving businesses may soon follow. As a last resort, the neighborhood grown-ups enlist all the remaining able-bodied boys and girls to haul bricks to help build a giant pyramid in the park in hopes of luring visitors. Maybe their neighbors will come back too. But something’s not right about the entrepreneur behind it all. Then there’s the new boy who came to help, the one with the softest of lips.
Seventeen writers contribute essays about how they became adults in times of war. Essays focus on modern history but take no sides. Vietnam from both sides. Bosnia. The Gulf War. Rwanda. Juárez. El Salvador. The list goes on and on. There are no winners, just the survivors left behind. Picking up the pieces.
Zach is eighteen. He is bright and articulate. He’s also an alcoholic, and he’s is in rehab instead of high school, but he doesn’t remember how he got there. He’s not sure he wants to remember. Something bad must have happened. Something really, really bad. Remembering sucks and being alive—well, what’s up with that?
I have it in my head that when we’re born, God writes things down on our hearts. See, on some people’s hearts he writes Happy and on some people’s hearts he writes Sad and on some people’s hearts he writes Crazy on some people’s hearts he writes Genius and on some people’s hearts he writes Angry and on some people’s hearts he writes Winner and on some people’s hearts he writes Loser. It’s all like a game to him. Him. God. And it’s all pretty much random. He takes out his pen and starts writing on our blank hearts. When it came to my turn, he wrote Sad. I don’t like God very much. Apparently he doesn’t like me very much either.
Khosi lives with her beloved grandmother—Gogo—her little sister Zi and her weekend mother in a matchbox house on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. In that shantytown, it seems like somebody is dying all the time. Billboards everywhere warn of the disease of the day. Her Gogo goes to a traditional healer when there is trouble, but her mother, who works in another city, who is wasting away before their eyes, refuses to go even to the doctor. She is afraid and Khosi doesn’t know what it is that makes the blood come up from her choking lungs. Witchcraft? A curse? AIDS? Can Khosi take her to the doctor? Gogo asks. No, says Mama, Khosi must stay in school. Only education will save Khosi and Zi from the poverty and ignorance of the old Zulu ways.
School, though, is not bad. There is a boy her own age there, Little Man Ncobo, and she loves the color of his skin, so much darker than her own, and his blue-black lips, but he mocks her when a witch’s curse, her mother’s wasting sorrow and a neighbor’s accusations send her and Gogo scrambling off to the sangoma’s hut in search of a healing potion.