Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year from the Land of Books

Iceland has more books published and purchased per capita than any other country on earth. (With this weather and twilight at 3:30 pm, it's not hard to see why.) But hooray for books, and via Buzz, Balls & Hype, a valiant new year's resolution. Read on!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Icelandic Experience

The plane smelled of fish. The signs are all in English, or bilingual. Yes, Reykjavik is dark, cold, drizzling, and very windy--- so windy that the first person out the airport lobby door bellowed, "HOLY COW!" The streets are sparkly with salt pellets. The restaurant offered "Mexicana" pizza (which I doubt any Mexican would recognize). Many immigrants from southeast Asia, and I found a Russian note in the gutter. More anon.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Off to Iceland for New Year's. Back a-blogging in early January--- and with a long post on my latest taxonomy of literary blogging. On February 9th I'm to chair a panel on writers's blogs as a new literary genre at the Washington Independent Writers Conference All-Day Fiction Seminar. I'll also be leading the one day literary travel writing workshop via Dancing Chiva in Mexico City this Jan 19th. Much news, too, from Tameme... More anon.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pug Vid: Madam Mayo's Top 5 Picks

#1. I'm a Pug!
Y'all ready to do this thing? Whucha gonna do?

#2. Planet of the Pugs
Grrr... lollipops in the sand...

#3. Japanese Chewy Steal
The big white dog is a Zen Master--- or else stone-bag dumb.

#4. Hi, Sophie!
Weely kwute

#5. Alas, there is no number 5. I'd recommend the one of pug eating the cheet-O, but nah.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quid Plura?

Apropos of the upcoming Washington Independent Writers Fiction Writing All-Day Seminar on Feb 9th--- for which I'll be chairing the panel on writers's blogs as a new literary genre--- conference organizer John Curry asks me, what do I think of his friend Jeff Sypeck's blog Quid Plura? Well, halleluja, it's an excellent one! Sypeck is the author of Becoming Charlemagne, a book I've had on my reading list for some time. Check out what he has to say about one of my favorite topics, Icelandic literature. More about lit-blogs and writers's blogs anon.

Dolores Olmedo Museum in Xochimilco (Mexico City)

... has the most magnificent Homage to Diego Rivera. Don't miss it. The exposition closes January 2nd.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dr Szender Ede's Article on the Emperor Maximilian

New on the Maximilian page--- thanks to the kind permission of Eduardo Wallentin--- I've posted his father's Spanish translation of a very rare 1879 article in Hungarian by Dr Szender Ede, an eyewitness to events in Queretaro in 1867.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Galeria Ida Victoria

Galeria Ida Victoria, San Jose del Cabo's most beautiful art gallery, has just re-opened. I was there on a morning week before last--- after the complete renovation, the tropical light seems even more sublime. The artwork is vibrant. If you're anywhere nearby, don't miss it. Check out the website at (I read from Miraculous Air here a couple of years ago. Here's a photo of Yours Truly and Bruce Berger (author of the enchanting Almost an Island) and Jim Tolbert, host and founder of Baja Books & Maps, in the old Galeria de Ida Victoria.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

San Miguel Writers Conference Coming Up

The annual San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is coming up this February. I'll be leading the break-out session on creative nonfiction on February 23rd. Some of the other faculty include Beverly Donofrio, Tony Cohan, and Wayne Greenhaw. Looks like it will be bien divertido. More anon.

Biblioteca Virtual Antorcha

A great on-line library of classics in Spanish: Biblioteca Virtual Antorcha. And I've added a new link on my Maximilian page to the Biblioteca Antorcha's El Proceso de Fernando Maximiliano de Habsburgo, Miguel Miramon y Tomas Mejia. (About the trial of Maximilian and his generals Miramon and Mejia.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Madam Mayo Really Does Not Care

about what Cristina Kirchner wore for her inauguration. (But boy, those spike-heeled boots Condi wore way back when were certainly something.) Madam Mayo herself prefers the Jesuitical Look--- lots of black. Saves on drycleaners's bills.

Hilde (aka Helmut) Testifies on Torture

Read his testimony before today's Helsinki Committee here.

Hurricanes and Carnivals

My essay from Creative Nonfiction (also available as an audio CD), "The Essential Francisco Sosa or, Picadou's Mexico City" appears in Lee Gutkind's anthology, Hurricanes and Carnivals: Essays by Chicanos, Pochos, Pachucos, Mexicanos and Expatriates (University of Arizona Press). Here's the book's description:

“In Mexico,” writes Ilan Stavans in the introduction to this provocative new collection on Mexican culture and politics, “ [the essay] is embraced as passionately as a sport.” While the American essay may be personal and confessional or erudite and academic, it is presumed to be truthful. By contrast, the Mexican essay pushes the boundaries between fact and fiction as writers seek to make their opinions heard—in literary journals, in newspapers, and even on cereal boxes. “What is real and what isn’t in a Mexican essay, only God knows,” concludes Stavans.In Hurricanes and Carnivals, Lee Gutkind, a pioneer in the teaching of creative nonfiction, brings together fifteen essays by Mexican, Mexican American, and Latin American writers that push the boundaries of style and form, showing that navigating “truth” is anything but clear-cut. Although creative nonfiction is widely thought to be an American art form, this collection proves otherwise. By blending fact and fiction, story and fantasy, history and mythology, these writers and others push the bounds of the essay to present a vision of Mexico rarely seen from this side of the border.Addressing topics that include immigration, politics, ecology, violence, family, and sexuality, they take literary license on a whirlwind adventure. C. M. Mayo shows us Mexico City as seen through the eyes of her pug, Picadou; Juan Villoro examines modern Mexico through the lens of demography; Homero Aridjis uses the plight of nesting sea turtles to document a slowly changing Mexican attitude toward natural resources; and Sam Quinones documents the decline of beauty-queen addiction in Mazatlán and tells us about the flower festivals where, according to lore, only two things matter: hurricanes and carnivals. For readers interested in a literary view of contemporary Mexico, as well as students of the creative nonfiction genre, this volume is essential.

And here is a bit from a recent review in the University of Pittburgh Bookshelf:
"A pug named Picadou and her owner walk eastward down the Avenida Francisco Sosa... in Mexico City.... It can be a literal dog-eat-dog world on these streets, which the pug’s owner, C.M. Mayo, captures vividly in an essay she wrote about Picadou and what she thinks and feels. It’s just one tale in Hurricanes and Carnivals (University of Arizona Press), a collection of essays by Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latin American writers, edited by Pitt English Professor Lee Gutkind. The compilation exhibits the catch-22 life of Mexico—a country both united and divided in a mélange of culture, myth, politics, and history. Gutkind, dubbed in Vanity Fair as the “godfather” of the creative nonfiction writing genre, says the difference between American and Mexican writing is that American authors tell you what they see, while Mexican authors tell you what they think. He hopes the Mexican style of “less reportage and more literature” will become a trend in the United States, fodder for enjoyable reading." —Lauren Mylo

More anon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Looks Like He Got a Bunch of Kisses Before Scottie Could Beam Him Up

Check out the trailer for Planet of the Pugs.

Curling?! Alice on Mexico City's New Skating Rink

Smack in the historic Zocalo, Mexico City's new ice-skating rink gets raves and an important question from Alice of "Alice and Pabu". She has her Tibetan Spaniel, Pabu, ask, hey, where's the curling? Oye, pues, lo puedes jugar en huaraches. Click here to view some serious curling.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kwiatkowski's Up

The U.S. Mortgage Mess

Thanks to my amigo G., a banker, here's a link to a blog post that ought to set your hair on fire. And worse: I think the author is missing the even bigger and inter-related mess due to the 2005 de-regulation of the credit card industry. Not to mention the changes in the bankruptcy laws. But more anon.

Update: herewith, an info-packed site on bankruptcy law:
Cornell University Law School page on bankruptcy

And check out the documentary, Maxed Out.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

For the Cabo San Lucas Humane Society

C'est moi signing copies of Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, which my publisher, Milkweed Editions, donated to the December 1st charity benefit for the Humane Society of Cabo San Lucas. They are doing fantastic work: check out their website, I hear they raised a heap of money--- and the proceeds will also benefit some local childrens's organizations. Next year the big fund-raising bash will also focus on helping the elderly. There's lots to do... More anon.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Upcoming Writing Workshops in Mexico

Mary Morris, author of numerous novels and travel memoirs, including the recently published and thoroughly splendid River Queen, is offering a workshop in Tepoztlan (near Cuernavaca, Mexico) in Magda Bogin's highly regarded Under the Volcano. I know from personal experience--- I was in Mary Morris's workshop when I was a fiction fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference back in (gasp) 1996--- that this is an unusual and very wonderful opportunity for anyone serious about their writing.

I'm also offering a couple of one day writing workshops via Dancing Chiva in Mexico City.

And stay tuned for more about the workshops in San Miguel de Allende this winter....


Picadou sure does wish she could attend this one--- Wilson the Pug (read his person Nancy Levine's guest-blog post here) will be there and the whole enchilada goes to benefit pug rescue.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thank you, Helmut

Check out today's post at the Phron.

Mexico City Obama Powwow

Viva Obama! (Richardson quiiiiza; Hillary most definitely not.) In Mexico City this morning a three hour meeting with my chilangringa amiga, Janet. Check out her Obama fundraising page and her essay on why Barack Obama is the one who should be our President--- and not, say I, of the so-called "homeland," but of the Republic that is the United States of America. Click here for the call to serve.

Iowa coming up January 6th. View the Obama Iowa video.

Soon to be Buzzing Over Mexico City?

Not the insectothopter (necessarily) but the lightweight, cheap (vis-a-vis-the big multi-million dollar thing) personal helicopter. For the cost of a (well, OK, with all the bells-and-whistles) sedan, avoid the snarl. Get your earphones and sound proof your house. Oh, yikes. I hear helicopters are the thing in Sao Paulo where the traffic makes even Mexico City's look mild.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Guest-Blogger David Taylor's Top 5 Books Read in 2007

Guest blogging today for Madam Mayo is writer and documentary film-maker David Taylor, author of the award-winning book Ginseng, the Divine Root and instructor at The Writer's Center.

Following Madame Mayo’s rich selection the other week, I offer my own Top 5 Books Read in 2007:

#1. Tree of Smoke
Denis Johnson had me hooked since Fiskadoro. In his hands, a novel about the CIA in Vietnam gains mystery, epic scale and fully-dimensional characters on both sides.

#2. In Case We’re Separated
In Alice Mattison’s collection of linked short stories, a family’s characters span decades and reappear in surprising situations.

#3. The Great Fire
Shirley Hazzard’s fine novel set in Japan just after World War II, like Tree of Smoke, gives an intimate portrayal against a broad canvas. Other favorites in fiction this year were Away by Amy Bloom, and You Won’t Remember This by Kate Blackwell (full disclosure: a good friend). But with just two slots left, I’ll make a case for nonfiction:

#4. The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Michael Pollan combines a strong narrative voice with a fascinating analysis of the food industry and how we eat.

#5. Maximum City
by Suketu Mehta is a mind-blowing picture of Mumbai (that’s right, Bombay) through vivid portraits of a few of its residents. Truly a glimpse into a city of tomorrow.

---> Check out Madam Mayo's other guest-blog posts here.

So, Not the Cement Booties

He floats.

Washington DC Half and Half

Via the ever-interesting political philosophy, torture (philosophy of), and fruit pix blog, Phronesisaical, these DC pix from here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Translation News: Calque's New Issue

Steve Dolphe, editor of Calque, one of the best new translation journals in the USA, alerts Madam Mayo that the third issue is on the stands. Check it out at And: they have restarted their weekly poetry-in-translation feature.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Felices Fiestas & Happy Holidays

Photo of the Pedregal Beach at Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, by Chairman Mayo.