The Museum on the Parque Juárez

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Restituto Rodríguez, Surrealista
Edited by Araceli Ardón

The open page shows "El Prestigio," 2005
and the text of C.M. Mayo's
"Excerpt from the novel The Museum on the Parque Juárez"
NOTE FROM MY BLOG, January 19, 2015:

Really, I am at work on my book about Far West Texas (I don't plan to interrupt it again as I did to write Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution), but well, actually, I am at work on a novel, if at a glacial pace. It's a comedy of manners set in an imaginary town with some features (such as the Parque Juárez) that might sound like San Miguel de Allende... or Antigua... or someplace west of Peru in an alternative universe overgrown with ferns.

Anyway, I am delighted to announce that my amiga the Mexican writer Araceli Ardón has brought out a gorgeous anthology of artworks by surrealist painter Restituto Rodriguéz paired with original works, apropos of those artworks, by Mexican writers including Araceli Ardón, Agustín Cadena, Mónica Lavín, Silvia Molina, Pedro Angel Palou... and Yours Truly, with an excerpt from the novel-in-progress.

(Restituto Rodríguez, Surrealista was published by the State of Querétaro, Fondo Editorial Querétaro, Código Áureo, Valverde Internacional, and the City of San Juan del Río, Querétaro. ISBN 978-607-96622-0-2).


Excerpt from the novel The Museum on the Parque Juárez

By C.M. Mayo

Pam Havelotte, accompanied by her advisor, Don Teddy, had been drinking café and rejecting pinturas all morning. Her Museum on the Parque Juárez had been filled but for one wall, this trumpet-blast of a wall, that needed a painting, one very special one... for it would be the first encountered by visitors arriving from the north gallery, that is to say, those agog from Liliana Cartwright’s early oeuvre, including the very significant sculptures, Jirafa IV and Jitomate VII.

And now, upon the easel: the Restituto Rodríguez.

Teddy stirred another lump of sugar into Mrs. Havelotte’s café. He went on in his pudding-smooth and peppered-with-Spanish way, while she, silently sipping, wondered: What did the artist mean by that priest, looking left, so full of the dread of Judgement Day? The reptile perched on his head—such tiny claws, buckteeth! The umbrella, the helicopters, the waif-like figure on a chair on a pillar... Whatever Don Teddy said, that it was evocativa, rather than narrativa, that it deconstructed something... multifaceted, geometría de composición... She had long ago learned to settle into the woollen-walled comfiness of her own intuitions as easily as if she’d twisted a dial behind her earring, for Don Teddy was so wise. If he’d told her to live in a tent in Antarctica, she would have asked him, what equipment should she buy?

Pam Havelotte handed her cup and saucer to a gloved hand that seemed to disappear as surreptitiously as it had appeared. Still considering the painting, one arm akimbo, she took a step back. Then she crossed her arms. “Yes!”

Teddy shot out his bottom lip. Mrs. Havelotte was going to find out, but he was not going to be the one to tell her, that the padre in this picture was the very doppelgänger of Teriasu’s first husband, Alfonzo, who had disappeared one fine morning to be turned up by her detectives, three years later, half naked and bald, in an ashram in Idaho. And whether it was or it wasn’t, he realized now, with a cold twinge in his stomach, Teriasu was going to conclude that the figure in that chair was herself. It was Teriasu who had sold her family’s 17th century stables so that her classmate from Sacred Heart, Pamelita, as she called Mrs. Havelotte, could elbow her museum onto the Parque Juárez. Why had Teriasu done that? It was a puzzling thought, like that little green lizard, and as he walked off into the Parque Juárez, arm-in-arm with Mrs Havelotte, Teddy had the sense that rain, somehow, was about to fall from the blue sky, and that that creature had lept out of its two dimensions and perched itself on his head. All through lunch, he kept patting the top of his head.

Here is my translation of the text on the back of the book, Restituto Rodríguez, Surrealista

Restituto Rodríguez was born in 1931 in an old house in the Historic Center of San Juan del Río, Querétaro. He studied accounting and worked in various governmental agencies until his retirement, at which time he embarked upon a road of no return, dedicating himself body and soul to painting, a jealous lover that had bewitched him since childhood.

The two genres of his work have been portraits and surrealism, the language of which he uses with great fluency. In his youth, he imbibed the works of masters in this genre such as Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Salvador Dalí and René Magritte. In time he worked out his own style; today, his work, an audacious proposal, is completely derived from his personal experience, nurtured by the events of eight decades in which he has lived with his eyes open and soul unveiled.

This book contains a selection of his works together with the valuable contribution of 20 outstanding writers, offering poetry and short fiction from the United States, Hungary, Spain, Panama and various parts of Mexico, all inspired by the fantastic images created by Restituto Rodríguez.


A Library Journal Best Book, 2009

"Once upon a time, there was a little half-American boy who briefly became heir to the Mexican throne—until his distraught parents sued the doomed Emperor Maximilian for his return. As in the best historical fiction, Mayo's sparkling first novel transforms a forgotten historical footnote into a spellbinding, heartbreaking tale filled with drama and fascinating characters."
Library Journal

"It is a hefty, sprawling work, more than 400 pages long, but at no point does it begin to sag under its own weight. Perhaps because its spread is solidly supported by facts, Mayo's intricate plot trips along at a natural, inexorable pace, easily traveling the sweeping map she has laid out for it, from Washington to Mexico City and all the way to the imperial halls of Europe... a swashbuckling, riotous good time, befitting the fairy-tale promise of the opening sentence."
Austin American-Statesman


"With elegant prose and an artist's eye for detail, Mayo may just have written one of the best books ever about Baja California. Highly recommended"
Library Journal

"Ay, if only I had been at C.M. Mayo's side in her rendezvous through Baja California... My recourse is her joyful, intellectually sparkling chronicle"
Ilan Stavans,
author of The Hispanic Condition

"A breathtaking vision of the past, present, and future of [Baja California]... Meticulously researched... a valuable combination of historical and social study"
El Paso Times

"A luminous exploration of Baja California, from its southern tip at Cabo San Lucas to its 'lost city' of Tijuana... [Mayo] takes the fiction writer's impulse and blends it with the instincts of a journalist to create a work of nonfiction that elides into modern myth"
Los Angeles Times Book Review


"one of the outstanding contemporary works on this country"
David Huerta, El Universal, Mexico City

"This is a book to throw in a suitcase or mochila (backpack) on the way to Mexico or just settling into a favorite patio chair. It will open your eyes, fill you with pleasure and render our perennial vecinos a little less distante."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"This delightful anthology . . . allows readers who do not have roots in Mexico or who have never traveled there a glimpse into the rich diversity of people and landscape. For travelers, these selections enhance exploration and offer vistas beyond the scope of the usual tourist guide. For other readers, they provide a clearer understanding of the cultural and social forces that shape today's Mexico. Highly recommended."
Library Journal

"Discovering it was like opening a door and walking into a brightly lit room filled with all kinds of literary treasures"
Mexico Connect


"A remarkable literary debut... tautly fashioned prose, alive with myriad turns of phrase as on-target as they are idiosyncratic."
Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"C.M. Mayo writes some of the most exquisitely fashioned, perfectly measured prose alive in the world today. Her stories glitter with delicious odd details. They feel electrically charged, richly mysterious, and rhythmic. I love her layering of cultures, her offbeat humor, her potent instinct for voices. Bravo! Captivating! Yes, yes, yes!"
Naomi Shihab Nye

"The haywire circuits of our whole electrically but not ethically connected global village stand exposed in Mayo's work. Sky Over El Nido won the 1995 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. I am not surprised."
David Toolan, S.J., Commonweal

"Sky Over El Nido is a breath-taking first collection... These stories are vibrant, strange, loaded with off-beat humor, exquisite detail, and delivered with near-perfect pitch. Sky Over El Nido shimmers with life."
The Virginia Quarterly Review