Monday, November 16, 2009

The Texas Book Festival

One of the perhaps surprising things about a book tour is that it's not all about the book; it's about meeting other writers, learning about their books, and, in this uber-connected age, learning about their websites and blogs. So I'm back (as of a couple weeks ago) from Austin's fabulous annual Texas Book Festival, where I participated on a panel --- "Imagination sin Fronteras: Wrestling with Mexico"--- with my fellow novelists Jimmy Santiago Baca (A Glass of Water), Barbara Renaud Gonzalez (Golondrina, Why Did You Leave Me?), and Luis Alberto Urrea (Into the Beautiful North), moderated by poet and writer Katherine Oldmixon (so yes, we "wrestled" with Mexico in the cavernous Senate Chamber of the Texas State Capitol, a more than somewhat surrealistic experience...). I've been on a panel with Luis Alberto Urrea before: he lights up the room, literally. Though I'd heard of their work, this was the first time I met Jimmy Santiago Baca and Barbara Renaud Gonzalez-- two wonderful writers. And I also met with my amiga novelist S.Kirk Walsh, who was just back from a stay at Yaddo, and novelist (and blogger) Sergio Troncoso, down from New York City, and poet Sara Cortez, and many other members, including founding member Nora de Hoyos Comstock, of Las Comadres. As a "Latina de corazon" (after nearly 25 years married to a Mexican and living, mostly, in Mexico City, and writing about Mexico and translating Mexican work, etc.) I felt very welcomed by Las Comadres, and seriously impressed by what this nonprofit organization has achieved: 15,000 + membership and a national Latino Book Club. I did not see Southwest Review editor, Willard Spiegelman, but I did grab a copy of his splendid new book, Seven Pleasures: Essays on Ordinary Happiness. Documentary photographer John Christian, whose haunting show, "Un viaje a Uxata," wrapped up last year at the University of Texas, also made an appearance. One writer I was especially sorry to miss: Edward Swift. When I think of Austin, I think of his wry and playful spirit. Check out his book, My Grandfather's Finger, and his art gallery in San Miguel de Allende here. Playful: that's Austin. When I got on the plane (connecting from Dallas), the change in vibe was palpable. Most amusing sight: The Grim Reaper and a bumble bee, strolling arm-in-arm down Sixth Street on Halloween.

P.S. New schedule for Madam Mayo blog:

Monday: Books
Every other Tuesday: Blogs Noted
Wednesday: Guest-Bloggers or my own 5 links
Friday: News & Misc.

New features: you can now follow "Madam Mayo" blog via Networked blogs on facebook (see the widget over to the right) as well as Google (ditto).

And the comments have been turned back on.

More anon.