Magical Realism, Writing, Fiction, Politics, Haiku, Books

jueves, octubre 27, 2005

Storms Alpha and Beta

Something is stirring, stirring up the Caribbean and shaking it. desde Desdemona remains safe, but there is record turbulence and the storms are too frequent and too powerful. This year is a record. When you look at this sea, do you see all of those storms in it? I don't.

When you look at this bay, do you see the rays flying through it like gigantic butterflies? Do you see the old green turtles munching sea grass? How, I wonder, can I experience the interconnectedness of all things? How can I see the sea in the storm, the storm in the sky, the sky in my heart, and my heart in the sea?

lunes, octubre 24, 2005

Is this desde Desdemona?

domingo, octubre 23, 2005

El Norte

For three days Hurricane Wilma stalled over Quintana Roo, Mexico, drenching Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and everything else. Winds destroyed buildings. Power lines fell. People suffered in shelters or struck out for the interior to find shelter. Homes were destroyed, especially those of the poor. Cars were flooded. Sewage backed up. Then the Hurricane started to move toward Florida, and in the US the topic of what had happened in Mexico, what had been destroyed, who had been killed or hurt, what needed to be done about it, how lives would be restored, all began to vanish from the "news." I didn't hear the media suggest that donations be made to the Red Cross. Speeches by President Fox, who visited the scene today, haven't been broadcast. For those with loved ones in Quintana Roo the story continues. But for the rest, the hype has now turned to Florida, and the imaginary border between the US and Mexico means that people in the US, unless they have friends, family, vacation reservations or business in Quntana Roo, won't have to concern themselves with the rest of the story. In a week it will be a distant, fuzzy memory for most people in the US.

But for those of us who know Quintana Roo, and who love it, there's an ache and a tear from the second hurricane to visit this year. And a prayer that all will be safe.

Soon, we hope, people in Quintana Roo and new visitors to this paradise will again rejoice in a turquoise sea, and enjoy lush green vegetation, and allow their terrestrial cares to be gently floated away by sweet smelling, calm breezes.

viernes, octubre 21, 2005

A Story About The Dream Antilles

From today's Independent

A special thank you to Diana Ladden.

jueves, octubre 20, 2005

A Prayer For Quintana Roo

May all beings be safe. May all beings find shelter. May all beings have comfort. May all beings be free from fear.

Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha!

domingo, octubre 16, 2005

Four Readings And A Cackle

The latest schedule for four readings from The Dream Antilles in the Hudson Valley, New York - Massachusetts Berkshires area:

10/26 7:00 pm at The Old Farm Store in Harlemville, Ghent, New York

11/12 at 2:00 pm at The Book Store, Housatonic Street, Lenox, Massachusetts

12/9 at 5:00 pm at Spotty Dog Books and Ale, Warren Street, Hudson, New York

12/17 2:00 pm at Red Maple Books in Ghent, New York

There might be additional readings in December; stay tuned for details as they emerge. Please come to any and all of these readings. There will be refreshments and I'll sign your books. And these are a great opportunity to buy a dozen copies to give as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, Solstice gifts.

Meanwhile, I have to cackle. Amazon today ranked The Dream Antilles #1,004,559 in sales even though there is a new, wonderful review of the book on Amazon (Thanks Jessie). This is a mind boggling statistic. I didn't even know there were more than 1 million books in print, much less that they're all apparently selling better on Amazon than The Dream Antilles. This probably means that The Dream Antilles needs a great publicist, or an advertising agency, or a descendent of the Medicis, or a grant, or an award, or some new, big word of mouth. Are you listening Oprah? Terry Gross? Got a suggestion about how to get this book wider recognition? Please post it here or email it to me.

sábado, octubre 15, 2005

Something To Carry Inside My Heart

martes, octubre 11, 2005

The First Announcement

I'm delighted that in just two weeks I give my first reading from The Dream Antilles. It's October 26, 2005, at 7:30 pm, at the Old Farm Store in Harlemville. The announcement is on the left. To me this is a huge thrill and tremendously exciting! You're all invited. And if you come, I'll sign your books! And, as the ad says, there will even be refreshments.

When I was writing The Dream Antilles I wanted people to be able to read it and come away with both enjoyment and something of value. I wanted to book to be literature, because I believe in literature's capacity to change the world, to be revolutionary. I didn't want the book to turn out to be a lecture. Personally, as I've said before, I simply can't stand books that masquerade as novels but really are sermons or instructions about how to grasp enlightenment. What I wanted was more difficult: I wanted The Dream Antilles mostly to be fun.

But when I thought about it, I didn't think I was going to end up reading aloud from the book. I thought you, dear reader, were going to read it to yourself on a beautiful beach, beneath a palm tree, with a bowl of papaya and banana on the table. Maybe you'd read it aloud to a close friend. But, lo and behold, it appears that I'm going to read some of it aloud at the Farm Store.

This reading "out loud", as I always say it, almost always brings me to tears. I think that I cry because what I've written touches me so deeply. It's a surprise to me even now how deeply what I've written touches me. And when I read it to you, it touches me in my heart. The tears, I always think, are the lubricant that allows the doors of my heart to open. They're good tears, and I'm full of gratitude both that I have them and that I can read my words to you. I can only hope that this book touches you as it has touched me.

domingo, octubre 02, 2005

Baracoa, A Beginning

Across the Caribbean from desde Desdemona is Baracoa, a small town inaccessible by land from before 1500 (when Colombus first landed there) until the 1960's. In 1512 Baracoa was the first Spanish settlement in Cuba. It's like Macondo. The lush forest of the Sierra Maestre and El Yunque, the tallest peak in Cuba, tower over the town. The town is nestled against the warm ocean. North of town is Maguana, a beautiful, white beach, shared by tourists and occasional foraging pigs.

In the church in Baracoa is a part of one of the original crosses that Columbus planted in Cuba when he first landed there. It's not under guard. To see it, you knock on the back door of the church. Nobody there? Go across the street, as Bardo did, to find someone in the Parochio to let you in. Bardo goes and asks to see El Cruz. The woman behind a counter says ok, let us find the key. She takes Bardo across the street, opens the back door, enters the silent, dark church, and in the nave there it is, in a glass case with no security at all, El Cruz de la Parra . The cross's 500 year old wood (it's been carbon dated) is held up by a metal holder (which is from much later on).

In many ways this is the most important relic, and maybe the most important marker in the history of the Western Hemisphere. It represents the beginning, the zero mile marker on the highway from then to now. If Columbus, instead of planting a cross and taking on the conquest and/or conversion of indigenous people, had said, "This place is really great so let's hang out here and enjoy it with the locals," the last 500 years would have been significantly, inconceivably different. And maybe, Bardo reminds us, a whole lot better. Bardo cannot believe what he's looking at. He makes a small donation to the church, and wanders off into the heat of the day. The woman closes up the church. Nobody else is waiting to see the cross.

If the Cruz were in New York or Madrid, it would have laser Mission Impossible security, armed guards, and lots of publicity around it. Lines of buses of tourists. Souvenir shops. Air conditioning. T-shirt sales. But there's none of that in Baracoa. Just the cross and the empty church in the middle of Baracoa.

Bardo buys a bottle of Habana Club rum ($3.25), sits on the roof of the Casa Particular where he's staying, and wonders if Macondo could be any more beautiful. He decides Baracoa is perfect and beautiful. He loves the way the mountainous jungle cascades to the town at the edge of the ocean. Columbus, he thinks, was right about one thing: Baracoa is one of the most beautiful places Bardo has ever seen.