Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions)

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Press:Transition Vendor Whereabouts Press (March 1, 2006)
Author Name:Mayo, C. M. (EDT)


Mexico has long been the top travel destination for Americans. 
But until now, there has not been such a panoramic vision of offered by some of Mexico's finest contemporary writers of fiction and literary prose.
Here are writings — many translated for the first time — that bring you to the people of the beaches, the deserts, jungles, snow-capped mountains, and megacities.
The voices are rich and diverse, the stories enthralling and strange.
These writings shatter stereotypes as they provide a rollicking journey from the Pacific to the Gulf, from Yucatan to the U.S.-Mexico border, from humble ranchos to a fabulous mountaintop castle.
Contributors include Daniel Reveles, Carlos Fuentes, Inés Arredondo, Jesús Gardea, Elizondo Elizondo, Agustín Cadena, C.
Mayo, Carlos Monsiváis, Juan Villoro, Guadalupe Loaeza, Fernando del Paso, Mónica Lavín, Pedro Ángel Palou, Ángeles Mastretta, Raúl Mejía, Martha Cerda, Araceli Ardón, Bruno Estañol, Ilan Stavans, Raymundo Hernández-Gil, Julieta Campos, Alberto Ruy Sánchez, Rosario Castellanos, and Laura Esquivel.

About the Author

C M Mayo, Editor


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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     Seems that CM Mayo has a deft touch for selecting just the right literary gems that give the rich color & warmth of Mexico. What is most impressive is that she was able to find the translators who understand the nuances of Spanish and never lost the quality of the original writing. Amazingly enjoyable to read - a wonderful companion for the arm chair or true traveler. A perfect gift for anyone.
  •     Very mediocre content. reinforced my belief that few short stories are worth reading. Definitely would not recommend, even for Mexico lovers.
  •     One of the best collections of literary works about Mexico, edited by acclaimed literary journalist/ translator C.M. Mayo. She arranged the contributions by geography in Mexico, so the book leads readers on a journey from the U.S. Borderlands through the North, into Central Mexico, along the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula, and the South and Southwest. Many familiar names inform and guide the traveler along the way – Reveles, Fuentes, Esquivel – plus Mayo herself. It served as a conceptual model for a 2015 anthology titled “Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows,” which also includes Reveles and Mayo, but which focuses on more contemporary writers than this 2006 classic. As with any journey, real or literary, it's best not to rush lest the traveler miss something. Take your time and enjoy “traveling” through Mexico with this great group of writers as your guides.
  •     Been there? Want to go there? Won't go but want to know? Buy this book. Funny, warm, based in reality rather than fiction. Places and people come alive. Not really anthropology nor tourist guide--but much more. Hard to put down. I read two chapters of a friend's copy, and put it down long enough to order my own copy. Worth re-reading! Worth sharing.
  •     A very interesting series of stories, especially because it speaks about different areas of Mexico and helps realize that in each zone people and circumstances are very different. When you finish the book you will have a better understanding of Mexican places, people and literature. You will also find you have favorites. Some of the stories are written by outstanding contemporary writers of Mexico.
  •     The literary companion series has the beautiful aim of introducing a range of foreign writers. The book on Mexico was published in 2006 and contained 24 works by as many authors. There were 14 short stories, 8 excerpts from novels, 1 essay, and 1 excerpt from a travel memoir. The settings included the border with the U.S., the Baja peninsula, the Northern Desert, Sinaloa, Mexico City and its environs, the Gulf Coast, the south, and Yucatán.The oldest authors, and among the best known, were Rosario Castellanos (1925-74), Inés Arredondo (1928-89) and Carlos Fuentes (1928-). The youngest were Agustín Cadena (1963-), Raymundo Hernández-Gil (1965-) and Pedro Ángel Palou (1966-). Others included Carlos Monsiváis (1938-), called one of the nation's wittiest and most insightful writers; Àngeles Mastretta (1949-), a leading feminist journalist and author; and Laura Esquivel (1950-), one of the most popular.Besides the Mexicans, there was a Cuban-born author, Julieta Campos. And the U.S.-born writers Daniel Reveles and C. M. Mayo, editor of this anthology, both of whom wrote in English. All the other pieces in the collection were translated from Spanish. Of all the authors, half were women.Not included in the anthology were important earlier Mexican writers like Alfonso Reyes (1889-1959), Octavio Paz (1914-98), the fantasist/humorist Juan José Arreola (1918-2001), Juan Rulfo (1918-86), and Elena Garro (1920-98), or Elena Poniatowska (1932-), or the later writer Jorge Volpi (1968-).Nearly two-thirds of the stories in the book were from the 1990s or later. The remainder came from the 1960s (Castellanos, showing her fascination with Indian subjects), 70s (Arredondo, Campos) and 80s (Del Paso, Elizondo, Estañol, Gardea, Loaeza, Villoro). So the collection might serve best as a light introduction to contemporary Mexican writing, though much of it seemed rather restrained in content and style, compared to the best writing from earlier decades from elsewhere in the region.For this reader, the most impressive story by far in the collection was the one by Elizondo, "The Green Bottle," set in the Northern Desert. It was a powerful work about hope raised and lost, heat and human endurance, with beautiful imagery. It was something like the short stories of Rulfo, but without that writer's violence or shifts in voice and time. For me, it was the best combination of style, atmosphere and content in this collection.An excerpt from a late novel by Fuentes, in just a few pages, created distinct characters and gave memorable glimpses into downtrodden lives near the U.S. border. An excerpt from a novel by Cerda, inspired by a real-life event in Guadalajara in the 1990s, managed in a few pages to describe both the problem--an imminent explosion--and intimate relations between some of the victims. A tale by Hernández-Gil set along the Gulf, about a witch's curse included exaggerated elements that might've been a parody of magical realism, blended with dark humor. More extreme combinations of the fantastic and grotesque have been done by an earlier writer outside the collection, Cuba's Virgilio Pinera.Other stories enjoyed were one by Mejía about the effects of sex and religion on a narrator's mind, and one by Villoro about a spoiled, rich boy's punk period in the 1970s, when he looked to London and New York for tips on the style. An essay by Monsiváis claimed the chaos of Mexico City projected the century that was to come, and a story by Cadena captured a painful memory of a loving relationship that had ended. The rest of the pieces made less of an impression. Given the large number of works the editor wished to include and the limited number of pages, some of the short stories and a number of the excerpts from novels felt too brief.Finishing the anthology, this reader wondered, were there no politically committed Mexican authors doing satires, straightforward criticism or other types of writing? In Bolivia, for example, older writers like Yolanda Bedregal, Ricardo Ocampo and Velia Calvimontes wrote about riots and crackdowns, prisons, and lack of land titles. In Argentina, Marta Lynch wrote about the acquisition of political power. In Colombia, Helena Araujo wrote about political repression and official denials. Guatemala's Augusto Monterosso satirized capitalism, among other things. A contemporary writer like El Salvador's Horacio Castellanos Moya writes hypnotically on revulsion about governmental and other crimes. Other than criticism in Fuentes' piece of working conditions near the border, such types of writing by Mexicans were absent from this anthology. There was, however, a humorous tale by Daniel Reveles about a corrupt official who went too far and got a slap on the wrist.Readers who liked this anthology and are looking for more depth might enjoy the Vintage Book of Latin American Short Stories (2000), with 10 Mexican writers from the 20th century, and the older but more comprehensive Borzoi Anthology of Latin American Literature Vols. 1 and 2 (1977), with 22 Mexican authors, including many poets. Other Fires (1986), edited by Alberto Manguel, contains works by five Mexican writers, including an understandable and powerful story by Castellanos, "Death of the Tiger," about the decline of an Indian tribe. Collections with some politically oriented writing can be found in Cruel Fictions, Cruel Realities (1997) and Landscapes of a New Land (1989).
  •     The range of work is interesting here, from some of Mexico's most famous writers to complete newcomers, from complete stories to excerpts from longer works--a perfect sampler. The arrangement of the book by the geographical setting of each story gives a delightful sense of traveling the country. Biographical information about each author adds depth to the selections.Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler

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