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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Only in the Meantime & Office Poems

By Mario Benedetti, one of Latin America's most widely read writers: A major new book of literary translation has just been published by HOST Publications: Uruguayan poet Mario Benedetti's Only in the Meantime & Office Poems, translated by Harry Morales. Dedicated, industrious, exacting, and ever-deft, Harry Morales is one of my favorite translators-- I admire his work so much. (I am proud to say he translated Ilan Stavans' short story, "Twins" for Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion.) From the back cover:
Uruguay's Mario Benedetti has dazzled the literary world as a poet, novelist, essayist, critic, journalist, playwright, songwriter, and screenwriter. This first ever bilingual edition of Only in the Meantime & Office Poems introduces Benedetti's poetry to the English-speaking audience. Opening as reflections of everyday life in Montevideo, the poetry blossoms into an art which speaks to all people from all walks of life. Benedetti's extraordinary handling of irony and simplicity alongside his poetry's unmistakable rhythm make him one of the most brilliant observers of 20th century life.
Kudos, Harry!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What is That "Fruit Salad" Down There On the Blogroll?

That, my dears, is a bunch of RSS feed subscription icons that blog expert Chris Abraham put on there for me. (Click on any one of them and subscribe to this blog's feed.) He's Washington DC's own blogging expert. He teaches a blogging workshop at the Writers Center in Bethesda, MD, and --- check out Craig's List-- he's available to consult by the hour. Check out his blog, which includes oodles of free info for bloggers. So, thanks to Chris, I'm now a little less clueless about feeds, about templates, about "pinging", metatags and html code. Yes, Madam Mayo has significantly expanded her vocabulary.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Exploring Yucatan: A Traveler's Anthology

Editor and publisher Richard D. Perry has just sent me his Exploring Yucatan: A Traveler's Anthology. It is not a collection of literary writing per se, but of classic Spanish, English, and other travel narratives of the peninsula, among them, works by Desire Charnay, Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Bishop Diego de Landa, John Lloyd Stephens, and Wilhelm, Prince of Sweden. It includes a glossary, bibliography, maps, and illustrations. A rich resource indeed. Be sure to check out his fascinating and frequently updated webpage--- www.colonial-mexico.com--- which includes a "mission of the month."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Future of Food

By the cash register at the Georgetown, Washington DC Whole Foods--- a major supermarket chain-- I found the DVD "The Future of Food". Like most people, I'd heard about genetically modified corn and soy beans, but hadn't given it much thought. What caught my attention was the placement of this product. Why was it right there by the cash register? (Is it by the cash register in other Whole Foods supermarkets?) I watched the DVD. And I am freaked out. It has quite a lot to say about Mexico, by the way. P.S. Check out novelist Jane Smiley's recent post on farming over at the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Mexican Immigration Story the US Media is Missing (So Far)

Gringos going south is a big, big story. (I've written about this at length in Miraculous Air, and in particular, the second chapter, "The Visitors," about the little Pacific coast farming-cum-artists colony town of Todos Santos.) With my new book, I've been amazed, at almost every book signing, someone tells me that they or a close friend are planning a move to Mexico. San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic are perennial favorites, it seems; newer destinations include the Los Cabos region (with Todos Santos), Tepoztlan (near Cuernavaca), and, above all, Oaxaca. Judith Haden, whose photographs appear in Matthew Jaffe's Oaxaca, recently brought to my attention Stan Gotlieb's "Real Oaxaca". For those of you interested in heading south, check out his choc-full-o-useful info "frequently asked questions". More anon.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Diesel Report & the Aspen Report

Just back from the tour out west. (Pictured here is my sister's Tibetan Spaniel Pabu doing the sphinx thing at Stanford University.) Sunday before last, at downtown Oakland California's cozy but cosmopolitan Diesel, A Bookstore, I read and signed my new anthology, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. This time --- no children present that I could see-- I read my translation of Juan Villoro's spicy (translation: loaded with swear words) "One-Way Street", a short story about Mexico City punk rockers. Juan Villoro is one of Mexico's most wide-ranging and prolific writers, and it is a great pleasure to translate his work. What was extra fun about this event was that both the publisher, Dave Peattie, founder of Whereabouts Press, and publicist, Peter Handel, were there-- I was very honored. Also in the audience were that dynamo of Mexican mojo, Chiras P., amigos Diego, Ines, Nancy E., writer Maria Espinosa, and literary translator Barbara Paschke (her work, by the way, appears in no less than three of the Traveler's Literary Companions: Costa Rica, Cuba and Spain). From California I went on to Aspen, where I had a delightful lunch at the Jerome Hotel's Garden Terrace with puggy princess Picadou and none other than Bruce Berger, who kindly consented to autograph a copy of his Music in the Mountains: The First Fifty Years of the Aspen Music Festival. Bruce's new book, another about Baja California, Oasis of Stone, is about to come out. It is sure to be excellent and very beautiful. More anon.