Author of Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, etc.

C.M. Mayo < About C.M. Mayo < Newsletter Sign Up < Newsletter Archive <

APRIL 2015

Dear Subscribers,

An April shower of cyber lotus petals upon you! This past couple of months, my writing assistants, U. Quetzalpugtl, and his little sister, W. Quetzalpugalotl, have been keeping me busy with all sorts of fantastical things, mainly walks. In between, I've managed to work on reading about Far West Texas, blogging about Far West Texas and yonder, and churn out a number of podcast transcripts.

In this newsletter: oodles of new podcast transcripts, a literary travel writing workshop, more about the new book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution and its Spanish translation, plus the best from the blog, "Madam Mayo."


The Marfa Mondays Podcasting Project, exploring Marfa, Texas and the greater Big Bend region, continues at a renewed chug-along pace. A crunchy interview with Texas historian Lonn Taylor has been recorded in Fort Davis, but I'm still ironing out the edits. In the meantime, I've been preparing the transcripts of previous podcasts.

Transcripts available to date:

Tremendous Forms:
Paul V. Chaplo on Finding Composition on the Landscape
Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"on list of the world's largest super volcanoes, the Chinati caldera is near the top of the list, and when the Chinati erupted about 32 million years ago, the force of the eruption was greater than Vesuvius and greater than Krakatoa. To think that that happened just southwest of Marfa is mindboggling...." [READ MORE]

Gifts of the Ancient Ones:
Greg Williams on the Rock Art of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands
Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"When I drive out here from San Antonio… I love rock and roll. I love old rock and roll music, it's playing all the way. When I hit the Pecos River, I turn the music off and I usually roll the windows down. I don't care how hot it is. I turn the air conditioner off and I usually drive way under the speed limit and then I become… at that point it's not about me. At that point I become the smallest thing here and everything out there is bigger than me, everything out there has something to teach me or to show me..." [READ MORE]

Looking at Mexico in New Ways:
An Interview with Historian John Tutino
Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"I got to the point where I said, "The whole basic big picture of where we thought Mexico fit in the world is somewhere between wrong and mythical." And you can't change that by chipping away at the edges and saying, "look at this little piece." [READ MORE]

Dallas Baxter: "This Precious Place"
Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"I really love this place out here, and I love the way it looks. I like the way it smells. I like to go outside at night and just look at the sky and feel the wind, and I think it's a really precious place, and I think it's a precious place because of what has come before and because of what's here now." [READ MORE]

Cowboy Songs by Cowboys and an Interview with Michael Stevens
Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"They love the job they do. They love their animals. They appreciate the land. Have you driven around the country and seen cowboy churches? Have you ever seen a farmer church? I never saw anybody sing about their tractor! You know, the sailors sing about their ships, but the cowboys, they love that." [READ MORE]

Listen in anytime to all my podcasts on podomatic or iTunes.

Plus, two new transcripts for the Conversations with Other Writers occasional series:

Mexican writer and editor Rose Mary Salum:
Marking Connections with Literature and Art
Show Notes + Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"While I was studying my master's degree and while I was taking my literature classes, I remember and it was one of the moments also that made me start the magazine, while we were studying the Latin American literature. We were studying people from the boom. Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, and they didn't even go to Octavio Paz, for example. I mean they stopped at the boom. Like, after the boom nobody was writing anything. You know, I remember asking one of the professors, is this all we are studying? Aren't we reading the contemporary writers? She said, "No." And I mean, this is it. I was really shocked by that..." [READ MORE]

Novelist and Essayist Sergio Troncoso,
Author of This Wicked Patch of Dust and Crossing Borders
Show Notes + Podomatic + iTunes + Transcript
"I'm writing stories. I just finished a story on a Mexican-American in Iraq. I interviewed Marines to understand their life in Iraq. You know, what is the smell of the desert like in Iraq that's different from the smell of the desert in El Paso? The sand has a different consistency in Iraq than it does in El Paso. It's not the same kind of sand. It's more of a clay sand. These incredible, riveting stories. One of the largest segments of the military are these Latino soldiers that rarely get any kind of press, and what's going on in their minds... [READ MORE]


April 18, 2015 Bethesda MD
(Saturday, one day only)
The Writer's Center
10 am - 1 pm
Literary Travel Writing
Take your travel writing to another level: the literary, which is to say, giving the reader the novelistic experience of actually traveling there with you. For both beginning and advanced writers, this workshop covers the techniques from fiction and poetry that you can apply to this specialized form of creative nonfiction for deliciously vivid effects.

More information and to register on-line



What Happened to Thelma: A Story of the Far Future by C.M. Mayo

Sarah Cortez, ed. Goodbye, Mexico: Poems of Remembrance (which includes my translation of a poem by Agustín Cadena)

Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking: A Beyond Glowing Review

Cyberflanerie: Rock, Mural, Street and Bathroom Wall Edition d'Not Art

Ignacio Solares' short story "Victoriano's Deliriums" Translated by Yours Truly in the Lampeter Review

A Shout-out for the Authors Guild

The StandStand: One Highly Recommended Way to Keep on Writing While Standing

Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America by Richard Parker

Some felicitous recycling going on:

Literary translator Lisa Carter's excellent Intralingo newsletter featured my blog post, "It's Not Like Making a Peanut Butter-and-Jelly Sandwich but It's Not Rocket Science Either or, How I Made my PODs (And You Can, Too)" and Mexico-based editor Mikel Miller's also excellent Egret Books newsletter featured by blog post, my talk for the Associated Writers Association Conference of 2014, "Writers' Blogs: Eight Reflections After 8 Years of Blogging".

Interested in posting one of these or any other of my blog posts on your blog or newsletter? Ask me! I'll probably say yes.


In case you're new to this newsletter, my latest book is Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. It's available on Kindle and in paperback, it's gotten some great reviews, and I have presented it at Rice University, the UCSD Center for US-Mexico Studies and, most recently, at Stanford Unversity's Center for Latin American Studies. I invite you to visit the website for this book, which offers excerpts, articles, reviews, Q & A, resources for researchers, podcasts and links to order, here.

The Spanish translation by Mexican poet and novelist Agustín Cadena, with the title Odisea metafísica hacia la Revolución Mexicana: Francisco I. Madero y su libro secreto, Manual espírita, has been doing well in Mexico. Most recently, it was presented at the Centro de Estudios de la Historia de México—home of Madero's personal library— with historians Javier Garciadiego, Manuel Guerra de Luna, Luis Cerda and Yolia Tortolero Cervantes, and in Querétaro, with Araceli Ardón, Dra Lucia Beltrán, Dr Andrés Garrido del Toral, the cronista de la ciudad, and historian Dra Guadalupe Zárate. Yes, it will be presented at the Feria de Libros in Guadalara this December. Stay tuned for details. Please be sure to send me an email or Twitter @cmmayo1 if you will be attending the FIL.

More podcasts to come. This book is available from Literal Publishing in the US and in Mexico, and from Dancng Chiva in Kindle and paperback outside of Mexico.Visit this book's website here.

Article in Spanish in Milenio 3-8-2015
"Los espíritus de Francisco I. Madero"
por Vianey Fernández

Review in La Jornada
¨Mayo y el espiritismo de Francisco I. Madero: Sin maniqueísmos" por Andrew Paxman

Philip Garrison, author of The Permit That Never Expires and Because I Don't Have Wings, reviews Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution:

One look at the subtitle— Francisco I. Madero and his Secret Book, Spiritist Manual— is enough to tell you her work is both demanding and ambitious. It is demanding in part because it begins by summarizing a century of fine-print esoteric thinking in little more than 100 pages. It is ambitious because of its goal: it wants to change our most basic thinking about the Mexican Revolution.

Her narrative involves three different perspectives. One begins in upstate New York, in the mid-1800's, in an area just south of Rochester, stretching from Albany to Buffalo. To this day people call it the Burned-over District for the various kinds of fervor that have seized it. In the 1840's, weird phenomena, occurring in very ordinary cottages, began to attract national attention. Loud rapping noises were heard, tables levitated, shapes materialized, until— through the midwifery of Madame Blavatsky and like enthusiasts— the discipline of Spiritualism was born. The Burned-over District was also the epicenter of agitation for abolition, women's rights, and various utopian social movements, the longest lived of which, it turns out, has been the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. But the tenets of Spiritualism—under different aliases—have had effects we're only beginning to recognize.

Another perspective begins around 1909, when Francisco I. Madero— first Mexican president after the Revolution —published his famous The Presidential Succession, as well as the much less well known Spiritist Manual. Record crowds turned out to greet his triumphal march through the countryside to the Capital. By February, 1913, with hundreds of civilians dead in the Capital streets, he is deposed and assassinated— by a traitorous Mexican general...

A third perspective begins around 2005 when Mayo, researching her novel, The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, gained access to Madero's complete library, including a copy of Spiritist Manual. On learning the latter had never been translated, she decided to do so. Four years of background reading immersed her in hundreds of Madero's own volumes, as well as a presidential correspondence so endless that, at one point, her economist husband's appointment to a cabinet position in the Felipe Calderon government must have made it seem that life was imitating art! Her reading left her with one conclusion: neither Madero nor the Revolution itself can be understood apart from the psychic landscape that yielded them.

In one sense, we all agree. There's something about the Mexican Revolution that dodges quantification. Its importance— to those who lived through it, or to those of us who re-live it— simply won't break down into discrete and measurable units. It was riddled with friendships and hatreds, of course— maybe more than its Russian counterpart, or maybe we only remember it that way— but the large and contradictory personalities we recall won't resolve into ideology, into figure and ground, into PowerPoint outlines.

Mexican history, at a great distance— from way too far off to yield any observation useful for living in it, of course!— appears a tug of war between two antagonistic forces. Call them, for the moment, the Spiritists of Madero and the Cientificos of don Porfirio. Or, say the struggle is between an inclusive dualism and a rigorous positivism. Or between a patient devotion to different qualities of experience and a grim fundamentalist faith that only the quantifiable is real. ... Mayo's large contribution in this book is to remind us of what we way too easily forget. Francisco Madero was a countryman of El Niño Fidencio, of Teresa Urrea, aka La Santa de Cabora. He was born in a land of faith-healers and desert saints, into a belief system built on four millennia of shamanism. For that matter, lack of evidence notwithstanding, he even may have shared a trait or two with Anacleto Morones, Juan Rulfo's lecherous mountebank. The point is that history has all too often portrayed him as a dreamy, impractical idealist—a naïf too innocent to survive a pair of cynical drunks like Huerta and Wilson. That judgement itself, Mayo implies, tends to be a product of the positivist thinking which Diaz introduced, and which, alas, has survived Madero, and changed his Revolution.

Francisco I. Madero was no wuss. His most fundamental beliefs tilted toward trust and not suspicion, connectedness rather than separation. Nothing he ever wrote, kindly remember, brought him more ridicule than his suggesting that —under supervised conditions— the living might even communicate with the dead.

Mexicans communicating with the dead! Imagine that!




For MEXICOPHILES: Updates on the Recommended Books on Mexico page.

For CREATIVE WRITERS: Updates on the Resources for Writers page and the Recommended Reading on Creative Process page.

On Marfa Mondays, as mentioned up top, many new transcripts.

All good wishes to you,


Through narrative we become more human. Truth is beauty. Exploration is infinite.
Looking for a book, ebook or CD?
The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire,
Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California,
Mexico: A Literary Traveler's Companion,
El último príncipe del Imperio Mexicano
, etc. etc.