>It’s a little hard to keep up with literary activities on the road, even though internet access is pretty easy. (There are Internet cafes all over, and in the smaller towns they charge about 10 pesos–one dollar–per hour.) But the trip has been mostly relaxing, so far, and I’ve managed to get some reading and, surprisingly, writing done. I am currently in Taxco, an old silver mining town in Guerrero state. It’s a great place if you’re into shopping for silver jewelry, which I am not, although there are dozens of fascinating side streets and old churches and markets to explore. I’ve been hanging out in my hotel–I have a balcony with a view–in the morning, writing, reading, preparing for the workshop that convenes in Tepoztlan tomorrow.
Reading to recommend: I finished Chuck Wachtel’s Because We are Here the other night and enjoyed it very much. Some of the stories are a bit quirky, but that is appealing to me more and more these days, as straightforward stories about cancer or adultery or, god forbid, coming of age, are beginning to bore me. Then I read Percival Everett’s Damned if I Do and was wowed. I’ve heard him read at Bread Loaf twice now and knew that there was something different about his work. I loved it and this is a terrific story collection. I was reading “Appropriating Cultures” (that title might be a little off as I don’t have it here with me in the cafe) and thought: this is an outstanding piece of work. When I checked the acknowledgments I saw that it had won a Pushcart Prize. It definitely deserved it. I love the way he treats race. The protagonists of the stories are typically black men, but except for the fact that someone, a white person, might notice that he’s black, it is in most cases beside the point. It’s a bit more relevant in the story mentioned above, but often it is a secondary issue at most. Now I’m reading the latest issue of Ploughshares, edited by Ron Carlson. Excellent stuff.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to check in here again, but stay tuned for reports from Under the Volcano.
>I absolutely love Everett, and at least a few of the stories in Damned If I Do just astounded me, Dixie (might have the name wrong on this one), and The Fixer to name two. Great news, he has a new novel coming out this fall from Graywolf Press!