Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Guest-blogger Jennifer Silva Redmond's 5 Favorite Baja California Writers's Websites

Baja California is that Mexican peninsula which begins at Tijuana and ends nearly 1,000 miles south at Los Cabos. (The photo was taken by my sister, Alice, and shows the Sea of Cortez on the right, Pacific on the left.) Guest-blogging today is my amiga and fellow Baja aficionada, writer (her work is in Latinos in Lotusland, the new anthology edited by Daniel Olivas) and editor-in-chief of Sunbelt Publications, Jennifer Silva Redmond. As Jennifer is one of the world's experts on this magnificent finger of the world, it is a special honor indeed to have her guest-blogging here today. Over to you, Jennifer!
Here are my top five websites of those who write about Baja California-- its history, natural history, people, places, even cuisine... To limit it to 5, I’ve assumed you all know Madam Mayo’s wonderful Miraculous Air (mandatory for Baja-lovers), and my amigo Graham Mackintosh’s site-- he was a recent guest blogger here. My list is confined to those Baja authors whose sites yield goodies: downloads, excerpts, recipes, links, and more! (Disclosure: Yes, many of these sites do link to Sunbelt, but what can I say? We’re where people go for new and classic writing about Baja!) I’ve listed them A-Z, to avoid any hint of favoritism... Enjoy!

#1. Bruce Berger Wrote one of my all-time favorite Baja California books, Almost An Island, and won the 1990 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, for The Telling Distance, among other awards. Berger is an author and poet, journalist, activist for environmental conservation—and a concert pianist! His site would be worthwhile just for this poem and excerpt; but it also has some great links, like this one to Planeta Peninsula, co-publisher of Oasis of Stone, with stunning photos by Miguel Angel de La Cueva.

#2. Harry W. Crosby Author of the best-known and most lauded books on Baja (after Steinbeck!). Those who love Baja California may already own The Cave Paintings of Baja California and Antigua California but many don’t know his latest history (of the trek to San Diego in 1769) Gateway to Alta California. Two of the coolest links on his site are easy to miss, the UCSD photo collections gallery and text, and the outtakes and excerpts (like DVDs “extras”) from his novel, Portrait of Paloma. Also check out the Crosby Collection on the UCLA Rock Art site.

#3. Ann Hazard Her two “Baja Magic” cookbooks are synonymous with Baja California cuisine. Everyone should have a copy of the first Cooking with Baja Magic cookbook, but you may not have numero dos yet! You’ll find that and Agave Sunsets on her site, which is a veritable treasure trove of fun stuff-- new stories and articles, a few excerpts from the new cookbook and her novels, unique photo-art by Terry her talented partner, and best of all, lots of wonderful easy-to-make recipes for yummy comida y bebidas!

#4. Michael Mercer Love his books? Think he should be censored? Either way, he’s a helluva writer! I read Mexicoland, his first collection of stories back in 1998, and said his writing was “broadly comic to subtly disturbing, but always fascinating.” Nothing has changed. This story about Osama Bin Laden is from his book Bandidos (which caused quite an uproar, including being banned locally) you can read all about it on the site; also available is a talk he gave in Los Cabos in 2006 and some witty short pieces like this one about Costco.

#5. Daniel Reveles Beloved Mexican Author who made Tecate Famous (see Tecate on Wikipedia!). Señor Reveles’ whimsical tales have been compared to O’Henry, Twain, and other humorists, but his stories can bring a tear, too. His website includes an audio download of him telling the story of “Señor Frog” from his new collection of stories Guacamole Dip, excerpts from the new book and Tequila, Lemon and Salt, a downloadable reading group guide in PDF form, and even a slideshow of Tecate!

There are so many more-- publications like Baja Breeze (6 full pdf issues to download!) and Baja Traveler, authors who update their sites regularly, like Greg Niemann of Baja Legends fame, and David K’s eclectic, far-ranging, and photo-filled Viva Baja which defies description but is so addicting! A site that covers all of Mexico, but has Baja travel stories, book reviews, info, and articles in Mexico Premiere (check out their social network, called Zocalo).

---Jennifer Redmond

--->For the archive of Madam Mayo guest-blog posts, click here.
Up next Wednesday: novelist Gayle Brandeis.