Tuesday, January 27, 2015

UCSD Center for US-Mexican Studies: An Upcoming Talk

***UPDATE: Podcast recording of this event >>LISTEN HERE<<

This Thursday January 29 @ 3:30 PM in the Center for US-Mexican Studies at UCSD I'll be talking about my new book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. 

The event is free and open to the public, and you can register here.

If you're nowhere near La Jolla CA, I invite you to  listen in anytime to the podcast of my talk about this same book for PEN San Miguel, recorded on January 13, 2015 at Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (in English).

Reviews for the book have been coming in, most recently from EZRA Translation Journal, Kirkus, and San Francisco Review of Books.  I invite you to read more about the book, plus access a cornucopia of Resources for Researchers on the book's website.

> Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

(Talk for the American Literary Translator's Association conference, 
Milkwaukee, November 2014)

El espiritismo seduce a Francisco I. Madero

Cosecha del FIL: In Celebration of Latin American Voices
(A note on literary magazine history)

(updated January 25, 2015)

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cyberflanerie: PEN San Miguel, Rachel Laudan, Russia, Stephen Woodman, Textured Chocolates, Barbara Hero

My January 13, 2015 talk for PEN San Miguel in Bellas Artes, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, about my new book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, is now a podcast. >>Listen in here.<<


Food historian Rachel Laudan Takes on Tiny Bubbles

Russia Before the Revolution (in Color)


Stephen Woodman's Mexican Labyrinth: Temazcal Adventure


A Teenager's take on social media

(My reaction: eew. Yes, I have FB, twitter, this blog, a website, a youtube channel and podcast, all in service of and/or as platform for my writing which is, entirely intentionally, public. But the idea of living my personal life so intensely mediated by "social media" just curls my toes. Yeah, I'm old. The thing is, not every innovation is better or for the wise. In my generation, for example, television watching vacuumed up hours, weeks, months, years.... I mean, I don't think that on my death bed I will I celebrate having watched reruns of "Batman"... And cigarette smoking was the fashion, until it wasn't. I remember pet rocks, too. A lot of stupid crap. Well, but most people do what most people do.)

The Hands of Georgia O'Keeffe


Ruth Chang's TED Talk on Hard Choices

(Note to college applicants: this is a must see.)


Textured Chocolates

Submarine Sandwich

Barbara Hero's Pythagorean Lambdoma Harmonic Keyboard

>>Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Austin, Ho! Publishing University

As a writer with several books traditionally published, and one aiming to place the next with a commercial or university press, what in thundernation am I doing signing up for the Independent Book Publishers Association's two day annual Publishing University

Pug-assisted. In a future blog post 
Uli and Washi will demonstrate
the number 1 book marketing
Well, inspired by the likes of Kenneth Ackerman, Sophy Burnham, and Sandra Gulland, I have become what is called a "hybrid author," that is, an author who has some books with traditional publishers (in my case, University of Georgia Press, Milkweed Editions, Unbridled Books, Random-House Mondadori, etc) but others going out under one's own imprint (mine being Dancing Chiva). 

In particular, like many authors, these past few years I've been busy bringing out the electronic editions of some of my older works, published back in the days of yore when publishers didn't care about digital rights (what did they know, ha.  And yes, Miraculous Air in Kindle is selling like gorditas.) And more recently (for various reasons detailed in this talk for the American Literary Translator's Association), my own Dancing Chiva brought out both the Kindle and paperback editions of Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual.

Bright, charming and talented in multitudinous ways,
 my assistants do not do website updates.
Here they are asking, "You want us to do whut?

That said, I'd love to place my next books with a publisher who can do more for them than
I can with my own itsy-bitsy pug-assisted operation, and that may happen with the next novel and the work-in-progress on Far West Texas... we shall see. But the thing is, for the rest of my life, a long one I hope, many of my many books' editions may remain in my purview. So, I figure, I'd better grok this game.

I've learned a lot-- 2014 was my year of scrambling up the POD learning curve-- but undoubtedly I have more to learn, and since things are changing faster than a rocket to Mars, I guess it's just going to be (...sigh...) an ongoing process. But hey, I get to visit Planet Austin! Can't complain about that. 

Dear reader, if you are going to Publishing University, zap me an email or tweet @cmmayo1 or @dancingchiva. It would be grand to meet you in person there.

> Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Conversation with Mexican Writer Rose Mary Salum About Making Connections with Literature and Art

Listen in anytime to this fascinating podcast interview, part of my Conversations with Other Writers occasional series, with Mexican writer and editor  Rose Mary Salum, on founding Literal Magazine and Literal Publishing, and editing of the visionary anthology Delta de las arenas: cuentos árabes, cuentos judíos, a collection of Arab and Jewish stories from Latin America. Recorded in Mexico City, November 2013 and posted just last week. (Approximately 40 minutes.) Learn more about Rose Mary Salum's work at www.literalmagazine.com

So far the series features conversations with:

Sergio Troncoso on writing his latest novel, From This Wicked Patch of Dust; Chicano literature; the US-Mexico border; on writing for New York; reading; blogging; and 9/11. 

Michael K. Schuessler on Mexico's incomparable poet Guadalupe (Pita) Amor; her neice, Mexico's acclaimed novelist and journalist Elena Poniatowska; the baroque literary prodigy Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; and the great friend of Mexico, the adventurous and passionate journalist Alma Reed, whose autobiography—a work vital to early 20th century Yucatecan history— Schuessler rescued from an abandoned closet. 

Edward Swift on his memoir My Grandfather's Finger and recent novel, The Daughter of the Doctor and the Saint, plus his Orphic journey to Texas's Big Thicket, Marguerite Young, Proust, Greenwich Village, and the wonders of Mexico's little-known Sierra Gorda. 

Sara Mansfield Taber, author of Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter, on her father's work in Asia, including his daring rescue of over a thousand Vietnamese after the fall of Vietnam to the Vietcong, and his disenchantment with the agency while working in Germany; Taber's childhood in Taiwan, highschool years in Washington DC during the Vietnam War; her previous books, including Bread of Three Rivers and Dusk on the Campo; other travel writers, reading as a writer; writing practice, and teaching writing.

Solveig Eggerz on her poetic novel Seal Woman, her unusual background (from Iceland to England to Germany to Alexandria, Virginia), Iceland's book culture, fairytales, and advice for writers.

>> Read more about the Conversations with Other Writers occasional podcast series.

I call it an "occasional series" because, well, it's very occasional. Over the past couple of years I have not posted any other conversations because I was writing Metaphsyical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution (now out in paperback, ebook, and also in Spanish), and I am once again focussing on the Marfa Mondays Podcasts (16 so far of a projected 24). But I so love to do these interviews with my fellow writers, and I hope you will relish and learn from them as much as I have. Gracias, dear Rose Mary. Thank you, all.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Restituto Rodríguez and an Excerpt from The Museum on the Parque Juárez

Really, I am at work on my Far West Texas book (I don't plan to interrupt it again as I did to write Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution), but well, actually, I am at work on a novel, if at a glacial pace. It's a comedy of manners set in an imaginary town with some features (such as the Parque Juárez) that might sound like San Miguel de Allende... or Antigua... or someplace west of Peru in an alternative universe overgrown with ferns. 

Anyway, I am delighted to announce that my amiga the Mexican writer Araceli Ardón has brought out a gorgeous anthology of artworks by surrealist painter Restituto Rodriguéz paired with original works, apropos of those artworks, by Mexican writers including Araceli Ardón, Agustín Cadena, Mónica Lavín, Silvia Molina, Pedro Angel Palou... and Yours Truly, with an excerpt from the novel-in-progress. 

(Restituto Rodríguez, Surrealista was published by the State of Querétaro, Fondo Editorial Querétaro, Código Áureo, Valverde Internacional, and the City of San Juan del Río, Querétaro. ISBN 978-607-96622-0-2).


Restituto Rodríguez, Surrealista
Edited by Araceli Ardón
Showing "El Prestigio," 2005
and the text of C.M. Mayo's
"Excerpt from the novel The Museum on the Parque Juárez"

Excerpt from the novel The Museum on the Parque Juárez

By C.M. Mayo
Pam Havelotte, accompanied by her advisor, Don Teddy, had been drinking café and rejecting pinturas all morning. Her Museum on the Parque Juárez had been filled but for one wall, this trumpet-blast of a wall, that needed a painting, one very special one... for it would be the first encountered by visitors arriving from the north gallery, that is to say, those agog from Liliana Cartwright’s early oeuvre, including the very significant sculptures, Jirafa IV and Jitomate VII. 
And now, upon the easel: the Restituto Rodríguez.
Teddy stirred another lump of sugar into Mrs. Havelotte’s café. He went on in his pudding-smooth and peppered-with-Spanish way, while she, silently sipping, wondered: What did the artist mean by that priest, looking left, so full of the dread of Judgement Day? The reptile perched on his head—such tiny claws, buckteeth! The umbrella, the helicopters, the waif-like figure on a chair on a pillar... Whatever Don Teddy said, that it was evocativa, rather than narrativa, that it deconstructed something... multifaceted, geometría de composición... She had long ago learned to settle into the woollen-walled comfiness of her own intuitions as easily as if she’d twisted a dial behind her earring, for Don Teddy was so wise. If he’d told her to live in a tent in Antarctica, she would have asked him, what equipment should she buy?
Pam Havelotte handed her cup and saucer to a gloved hand that seemed to disappear as surreptitiously as it had appeared. Still considering the painting, one arm akimbo, she took a step back. Then she crossed her arms. “Yes!” 
Teddy shot out his bottom lip. Mrs. Havelotte was going to find out, but he was not going to be the one to tell her, that the padre in this picture was the very doppelgänger of Teriasu’s first husband, Alfonzo, who had disappeared one fine morning to be turned up by her detectives, three years later, half naked and bald, in an ashram in Idaho. And whether it was or it wasn’t, he realized now, with a cold twinge in his stomach, Teriasu was going to conclude that the figure in that chair was herself. It was Teriasu who had sold her family’s 17th century stables so that her classmate from Sacred Heart, Pamelita, as she called Mrs. Havelotte, could elbow her museum onto the Parque Juárez. Why had Teriasu done that? It was a puzzling thought, like that little green lizard, and as he walked off into the Parque Juárez, arm-in-arm with Mrs Havelotte, Teddy had the sense that rain, somehow, was about to fall from the blue sky, and that that creature had lept out of its two dimensions and perched itself on his head. All through lunch, he kept patting the top of his head.

#        #        #

Here is my translation of the text on the back of the book:

Restituto Rodríguez was born in 1931 in an old house in the Historic Center of San Juan del Río, Querétaro. He studied accounting and worked in various governmental agencies until his retirement, at which time he took a road of no return, dedicating himself body and soul to painting, a jealous lover that had bewitched him since childhood.
The two genres of his work have been portraits and surrealism, the language of which he uses with great fluency. In his youth, he imbibed the works of masters in this genre such as Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. In time he worked out his own style; today, his work, an audacious proposal, is completely derived from his personal experience, nurtured by the events of eight decades  in which he has lived with his eyes open and soul unveiled.
This book contains a  selection of his works together with the valuable contribution of 20 outstanding writers, offering poetry and short fiction from the United States, Hungary, Spain, Panama and various parts of Mexico, all inspired by the fantastic images created by Restituto Rodríguez.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reading Tonight for PEN in San Miguel de Allende (Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution)

***UPDATE: Podcast recording of this event now available. >>LISTEN HERE<<

This evening in San Miguel de Allende in Bellas Artes at 6 PM I will be discussing my new book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. 

The small admission charge of 100 pesos benefits PEN International San Miguel Centerone of the 145 centers of PEN International, the worldwide association of writers with centers in 104 countries, to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers everywhere, fight for freedom of expression and represent the conscience of world literature.

President of Mexico Francisco I. Madero
and the First Lady, Sara Pérez de Madero
Back in late 2011 for the Author's Sala and again in 2012 for PEN and SOL Literary Magazine, I spoke in San Miguel de Allende about my translation of Madero's Spiritist Manual; this time I'll be talking about much more from my all-new book about that book--  including some revelations about Madero's personal library of esoterica and the mysterious German-Mexican spy Dr. Arnoldo Krumm-Heller, among others on the esoteric scene.

The cover of Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution features San Miguel de Allende artist Kelley Vandiver's "Gerbara and Eye". And another San Miguel de Allende connection: the opening pages of my book, the chapter "Roots, Entanglements, Encounters," are in SOL Literary Magazine's latest issue, (thanks, Eva Hunter).

Herewith, my article for San Miguel de Allende's Atención which, thanks to Huertista duendes, I guess, did not make it into this week's issue:


When Halley's comet, that star with the quetzal's tail, flared across Mexican skies in 1910, it heralded not only the centennial of Independence, but a deeply transformative episode, the Revolution launched by Francisco I. Madero on November 20, what Javier Garciadiego calls “the true beginning of a process, the birth of the modern Mexican state.” The great chorus of Mexican historians agrees. And yet, almost unknown and curious as it may sound, a vital taproot of this revolution lies in the Burned-Over District of New York state.
So opens my book about Francisco I. Madero’s secret book, Manual espírita, which he wrote during the Revolution of 1910 and brought into circulation in 1911 when President-Elect— but under a pen name, “Bhima,” taken from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad-Gita. When I happened upon the Manual espírita in Madero’s archive in the National Palace, I knew at once I should translate it. A literal translation was an easy task, but understanding its metaphysics, origins, and rich esoteric context, required years more of reading and archival research—  including multiple visits to the remains of Madero’s personal library. That little-known library, housed in Mexico City’s Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México, turns out to be one the most outstanding collections of 19th century and early 20th century esoterica in the Americas, comprising many extremely rare volumes from authors such as Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Maestro Huiracocha (Dr Arnold Krumm-Heller), Camille Flammarion, Dr. Peebles, and Swami Vivekananda.
My book about Madero’s secret book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, is an odyssey in three senses:  Madero’s own, from norteño merchant prince to Spiritist medium, gun-slinging revolutionary, President of the Republic and, ultimately, martyr; my own; and the reader’s— for I assume most know little or nothing of Madero’s life and political career, nor of the Spiritism Madero encountered as a student in late 19th century France, and less of that religion’s roots in Upstate New York.
As Mexican historian Enrique Krauze writes in his seminal 1987 biography, Francisco I. Madero: Místico de la libertad, “Politics does not displace Spiritism: it is born of it.” In other words, we cannot understand Madero and the 1910 Revolution without taking into account his Spiritist beliefs and his mediumship. Neither can we understand his beliefs without reference to his own statement, which is his ardent and thoroughly astonishing Spiritist Manual. 

Article for ATENCION, San Miguel de Allende, January 2015, apropos of C.M. Mayo’s reading for PEN International San Miguel Center, January 13, 2015. Her new book, which includes her translation of Madero’s Manual espírita,  is Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual (Dancing Chiva, 2014). The book is also available in Spanish, translated by noted Mexican novelist and poet Agustín Cadena as Odisea metafísica hacia la revolución Mexicana, (Literal Publishing, 2014), together with a transcript of the original Manual espírita.

(Talk for the American Literary Translators Association, 2014)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Junípero Serra in Mexico's Sierra Gorda

The Missions of Mexico's Sierra Gorda, in the mountainous state of Querétaro several hours by car north of Mexico City, though physically very distant, are closely connected to those of the Californias. Beginning in the late 17th century, Jesuit missionaries began establishing missions in Lower or Baja California (that story retold in my book, Miraculous Air). In the late 18th century, when the Spanish King, for reasons known only to himself, expelled the Jesuits from the Spanish realm, it was Father Junípero Serra, the Franciscan missionary of the Sierra Gorda, who took over that enterprise, and continued marching north, establishing
missions up the Pacific Coast of what is today the state of California. 

> See the Huntington Museum page on Junipero Serra and the Legacies of the California Missions

This past Easter week, I had the great fortunate of being able to visit the missions of the Sierra Gorda-- to follow, as the Mexicans say, la ruta de las misiones. A delightful synchronicity: my dear friend and fellow writer, Araceli Ardón, recently published a beautiful book on this very subject: Los caminos de Fray Junípero Serra en Querétaro / The Paths of Junipero Serra in Queretaro (Gobierno del Estados de Querétaro / Valverde International / Fundación DRT). Texts are by Araceli Ardón and Andrés Garrido del Torral, with photographs by Gerardo Proal and Gonzalo Alcocer Fernández de Jáuregui. (Other than the museum shop in Jalpan, I do not know where the book can be purchased, but it can be found in libraries at this link. I hope to update this link shortly.)

The five Franciscan missions of the Sierra Gorda are Concá, Tancoyol, Jalpan, Landa, and Tilaco.  Herewith a few of my own snapshots:






The plaza in from of Mission Jalpan

More about Junípero Serra:

> Brief bio on PBS apropos of a series about the West

> Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra's Dream and the Founding of California by Gregory Orfalea

> And forthcoming this March:
Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz

More about the Franciscan missions:
UNESCO page on the Missions of the Sierra Gorda
Misiones de la Sierra Gorda, Querétaro, in México desconocido, an excellent Spanish language Mexican magazine
Museo Histórico de la Sierra Gorda in Jalpan de Serra

Among the other many sights to see in the Sierra Gorda are the Sotano del Barro in Arroyo Seco, a vast sinkhole with a colony of macaws; El Chuvaje waterfall; and archeological sites including Ranas, 
Toluquilla and Tancama. For more about these and others, see:

Your COMMENTS are always welcome

(Poet and artist Sir Edward James' Surrealist Garden,
a place many visit on their way to see the missions)

(includes a short story set in Querétaro by Araceli Ardón)

(very interesting throughout; of note, 
he mentions his creative retreats into the Sierra Gorda)

Friday, January 09, 2015

Celebrating Literary Friends: Leslie Pietrzyk, Michael K. Schuessler, Rose Mary Salum, Araceli Ardón

My amiga and long-time fellow writing group member, Leslie Pietrzyk, has won the Drue Heinz award for short fiction, read all about it over on her blog, Work-in-Progress. Read also her powerful essay, must-reading for any and all aspiring writers, which she posted on her blog shortly before learning that she had won: "The Writing Life: What It Really Takes." 

Michael K. Schuessler, one of the writers writing on Mexico I most admire, has just brought out what is sure to be rollicking good read: Perdidos en la traducción: Cinco viajeros ilustres en México en el siglo XX. This one definitely needs to come out in English! A literal translation of the title would be Lost in Translation: Five Illustrious Travelers in 20th Century Mexico. Who are those travelers? Howard Hughes, William S. Burroughs, Marilyn Monroe, Edward James, and B. Traven. Here is a photo of me and my writing assistant, Uli Quetzalpugtl, celebrating with Michael at lunch in Mexico City day before yesterday. (What happened to my head? Uyy, seriously bad hair day.)

My writing assistant,
who never has bad hair days,
approves of this book.
And here is Michael showing me the spot where the Madero mansion stood. It was burned down by a mob in the Decena Trágica of 1913, as the little tile plaque explains.

P.S. Listen in to my podcast interview with Michael about his extraordinary biographies of Mexican novelist Elena Poniatowska and poet Pita Amor, and his surreal rescue of the memoir of "La Peregina," Alma Reed, international journalist and fiancée of Yucatan's radical governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto. 

More books by Mexico expert Michael K. Schuessler

Speaking of podcast interviews, I've been editing a wonderful one with Rose Mary Salum, editor of Literal. She's also a writer and the editor of the visionary anthology Delta de arenas, cuentos arabes, cuentos judíos. Stay tuned-- almost done! (Alas, what I needed was a Dead Kitten... that's the term for a muff around the microphone to filter out infelicitous noises. But ex post I am getting it all ironed out.)

Araceli Ardón has just brought out a gorgeous new book of paintings by Restituto Rodríguez, each paired with an original literary work-- including one by Yours Truly. More about this one in the next post-- and Ardón's gorgeous book on the Sierra Gorda.

Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

At the US-Mexico Border, Descent into Eagle Nest Canyon

Back in December I went with the Rock Art Foundation down into Eagle Nest Canyon, which drains into the Rio Grande just past the Pecos near Langtry. There was rock art to see, of course, and the second largest buffalo jump in North America. This mini-travel clip, an edited 50 seconds, shows only the descent into that spectacular canyon. 

> More mini-travel clips 

> Visit the Rock Art Foundation at www.rockart.org

> The music is by Ergo Phizmiz under a creative commons license. P.S. Ya'll check out Ergo From the Factory.

> Listen in to my podcast interview with Greg Williams, director of the Rock Art Foundation: Gifts of the Ancient Ones: The Rock Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands

Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

Monday, January 05, 2015

10 Great Reads on Far West Texas (and Yonder) from Texas Monthly

The Texas Monthly magazine archives are open. Herewith links to 10 articles, most but not all on Far West Texas, which quite surprised me-- and perhaps will raise one or both (or all three?) of your eyebrows as well.

by John Phillip Santos, November 2014

The year a flock of turkeys came to Marfa
by Sterry Butcher, November 2014

The Earth is There to Catch Us When We Fall
What I have learned from horses
by Sterry Butcher, January 2014

Includes the saga of a hiker trapped in the Big Bend
by Matt Bonderant, October 2014

Why are dozens of Sikh refugees being detained in an El Paso 
immigration facility, months after they could have been paroled?
By Sonia Smith, August 2014

Star of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," that is.
by Stephen Harrigan, July 2014

One Hundred Boxes
Living with Donald Judd's Austere Sculptures for a Month
by Jim Lewis, October 2007

Former state demographer Steve H. Murdock troves his data to illustrate the average Texan in two very different years-- 1950 and 2050.
by Jeff Salamon, February 2014

Thoughts on the gradual march of civility and urban sprawl across the lost frontier
by Larry McMurtry, February 2013

On El Paso
by Dagoberto Gil, February 2013

P.S. Texas Observer archives, both web and print, are available here.

Your COMMENTS are always welcome.

Exploring Marfa, Texas & the Big Bend Region in 24 Podcasts
Listen in anytime to all the podcasts

The latest Marfa Mondays Podcast is