Jessica Alba doesn’t speak Spanish. Nor does she speak Danish for that matter, the language of her mother’s family. But this 26-year-old actress from California , best known for her roles in “Sin City ”and “Fantastic Four,” is eager to learn. She feels very proud of her Spanish-language surname and is very close to her father’s family even though she is a third-generation Mexican-American. While she is learning the language of her ancestors, however, she avidly reads everything she can get a hold of in her native tongue.
Q. Who is your favorite author?
A. David Sedaris. I love his vision of America , which I perfectly understand being the fish out of water that I’ve always been.
Q. What is your favorite book?
A. American Pastoral. By Philip Roth. For the same reason.
Q. And what about in Spanish?
A. I try to study Spanish but it’s very difficult. You need a lot of practice and at home they never forced me to.
Q. They never read you a story in Spanish?
A. Not even my grandparents. It’s not that they were ashamed. My grandfather was the only Mexican in his school but he changed his name from José to Joe and didn’t teach his children Spanish so they wouldn’t feel different.
Q. Do you have a place to read?
A. I n bed or on the sofa, with my dogs. The bad thing is the interruptions.
Q. Have you ever tried to write?
A. I used to until I became afraid someone would read it. I had a short story published in Readers Digest but I’ve never gone back to find it.
Q. What are you reading at the moment?
A. I’ve just read Perfume (The Story of a Murderer). It was great.