July Book Club: ‘Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces’ by Maceo Montoya

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Headshot of Maceo Montoya and cover of his book “Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces”

For our inaugural Forum Book Club*, we’ve picked Maceo Montoya’s “Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces.” The book interweaves its narrative with drawings and scholarly footnotes to tell the story of an aspiring painter with grand ambitions. This would-be artist faces several roadblocks: he is coming of age in 1940s New Mexico with no economic means to support his dreams and, instead of painting, he writes long notes for future works of art. Montoya takes readers along the narrator’s quest to become a celebrated artist — a journey that takes unusual turns including runs in with Chicanx historical figures such as activist Reies Lopez Tijerina and writer Oscar Zeta Acosta. In this comical and satirical tale, Montoya takes aim at what it means to tell a Chicano story, which Chicano narratives are elevated and who gets to become an artist. We’ll meet on the air to talk with Montoya and hear readers’ comments, reactions and questions. 

You can buy the book here.

Here are some questions for this month’s selection:

  • What was your favorite illustration in Maceo Montoya's "Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces" and why? 
  • What did you keep thinking about after you finished reading?
  • What were some of your favorite characters, scenes or passages?
  • What did you think of Maceo Montoya's use of footnotes?

*This month, Forum is kicking off a special offering: Forum Book Club. Our goal is to dive deeper into a book and give readers a chance to ask questions and talk directly with authors about their work. Each month, we will select a book written by an author with California roots. Stay tuned for next month's selection.


Maceo Montoya, author of “Preparatory Notes for Future Masterpieces” (2021), "The Scoundrel and the Optimist" (2010), "The Deportation of Wopper Barraza" (2014), and "Letters to the Poet from His Brother" (2015). He is also associate professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at the University of California Davis where he teaches courses on Chicanx culture and literature.

Reyna Grande, author of the memoirs, "The Distance Between Us," (2012) and "A Dream Called Home" (2018) and the novels, "Across a Hundred Mountains" (2006) and "Dancing with Butterflies" (2009)

Ernesto Quiñonez, associate professor, Cornell University Department of English, and author of three novels, "Bodega Dreams"(2000), "Chango’s Fire" (2004) and "Taina" (2019).

Robert Patrick Newcomb, professor of Luso-Brazilian Studies, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Davis