Sunday, February 11, 2007

Brevity, Miraculous Air, Reading HRH Princess Stephanie of Belgium

From Dinty W. "living between panic & desire" Moore:
"The Spring 2007 Global Warming issue of BREVITY, the journal of concise literary nonfiction, has poked through the ice. Brevity 23 features ten outstanding essayists--- Robin Behn, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Sandi Wisenberg, Anne Panning, Patricia O'Hara, Grace Talusan , Christopher Cocca, Joy Beshears Hagy, Mary Akers, and Leslie Stainton--- exploring childbirth, urban sprawl, catachresis, candy cigarettes, and beyond. We are also proud to announce our new Book Review section, including review essays by Lee Martin, Patrick Madden, Kim Dana Kupperman, Porter Shreve and Todd Davis. Plus an adhesive new Craft Essay by Shane Borrowman. Please visit."
Full disclosure: Brevity published a little something of mine a while ago, "Into the Sierra de San Francisco" an excerpt from my memoir of travels in Baja California, Miraculous Air. The book is about to be reissued this spring by Milkweed Editions.

Almost done with the first complete draft of my novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, set during the second Mexican Empire. Read more about that on my Maximilian page. As I like to say, not all the writing is on the page. To write, one must read. This week brought an extraordinary book in the mail--- one I had been wanting to read for a very long time: HRH Princess Stephanie of Belgium's 1937 memoir, I Was to Be Empress. Princess Stephanie was the Empress Carlota of Mexico's neice. Of a visit to the Castle of Bouchout in Belgium, she writes:

I can recall my last visit, which I paid in my mother's company during the year 1899. The Empress's suite was awaiting us in front of the castle and conducted us to her apartments. There she stood, deathly pale, but still amazingly beautiful. I ran up to her to kiss her hand. She embraced me, obviously delighted to see me once more. When we had seated ourselves, the Empress began to speak garrulously, but everything she said was confused, for her mind was unhinged. Suddenly she turned her large dark, sorrow-laden eyes upon me. "Tu viens d'Autriche, chere enfant? Comment se porte ton beau pere, l'empereur?" she inquired. Thereupon she rose to her feet, took me by the hand, led me to the life-sized portrait of Emperor Maximilian, curtsied humbly before him, and said, "Et l'autre, ils l'ont tue!" It was really heart-breaking.
More anon.