The former teachers passion for popular culture has fueled two New York Times bestsellers and hes hoping for a third

Shea Serrano is very certain that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is just an OK film. But the mention of it inspires him to endorse its predecessor, Jurassic World, by making dinosaur noises and declaring momentary attraction to a CGI raptor.

Its not the first time hes made the case for Jurassic World. Its probably closer to the 100th.

Movies
Movies (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano. Photograph: Arturo Torres and Twelve Books

The teacher-cum-writers passion for popular culture has fueled two New York Times bestsellers and now probably a third, Movies (and Other Things), which was published this week in the US and will come out in the UK on 31 October.

The 256-page book finds the San Antonio, Texas-based author answering questions such as Who gets it the worst in Kill Bill? and which characters from seminal high school movies of the 90s and early 2000s would be friends with Regina George, the classic Mean Girls villain.

Youre taking notes and youre so invested in the material and then it just comes out in your regular life, where thats all you want to talk about, Serrano told the Guardian on publication day.

Im going to lunch with my cousin Gary, who I hang out with all the time, and I have 100 Regina George thoughts to run by him. And hes like, All right, you gotta fucking relax.

Such intense behavior has, however, cemented Serrano as one of the most successful culture writers of the decade. His Basketball (and Other Things) was one of Barack Obamas favorite books of 2017 and The Rap Year Book is being turned into a documentary for AMC, the network responsible for Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

If Movies (and Other Things) also becomes a New York Times bestseller, Serrano and illustrator Arturo Torres will be the first Mexican-Americans to have three books attain such hallowed status.

Serrano is supported by the FOH (Fuck Outta Here) army, a tribe of 302,000 Twitter followers who drive both book sales The Rap Year Book sold out on Amazon and Barnes & Noble within two days of release four years ago and philanthropic projects.

In December 2016, for example, they raised $3,000 to tip a parking attendant who helped Serrano find his car at an airport. In March 2017, they raised $12,500 for Planned Parenthood and to help a former student of Serranos pay for a trip to Turkey to teach English. They have directed thousands to support teachers on the website Donors Choose, to an LGBTQ youth center in San Antonio and to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Serrano said people frequently tell him such projects are one of the only nice things they see on social media. That hasnt stopped him, however, from injecting politics into the mix.

Who
Who gets it the worst in Kill Bill? Photograph: Arturo Torres

Shortly after the election of a president who announced his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, Serrano made clear he despises Donald Trump. Some followers argue his Twitter feed should not be political or should not alienate those with a different political opinion. He responds automatically: if they support Trump, they should not follow him.

Serrano said he felt an obligation to make his position clear and decided it was worth whatever impact it had on his book sales.

At some point, you are either going to say something or not going to say something, Serrano said. I knew very early on there were not a lot of Mexicans in the places I was and I cant not say something.

This does not seem to have dented his appeal. On the night of his latest release, at least 300 people wrapped around a block in Brooklyn to see Serrano speak at Books Are Magic, a small independent store. Other stops on his tour are drawing similar crowds.

It is an amazing result for someone who did not plan to be a professional writer.

Serrano and his wife, Larami, planned to spend their lives teaching. But she was put on bed rest for four months while pregnant and they were left with one salary that could barely cover rent.

We were getting beat up, Serrano said. We needed more money.

Serrano started to write for paid-content sites, local newspapers and alt weeklies. An editor at the beloved culture and sports website Grantland asked him to pitch stories and eventually he was offered a full-time job. The site closed three months later but Serrano had found his devoted following.

This has been how my career works, he said. Falling into things by accident.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/us

 

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