Sunday is market day in Tepoztlan and the city is flooded with tourists from Mexico City. The place is hopping, festivals are noisy in most barrios, and I'm looking forward to them all hitting the road!
Last night we had the first reading of the workshop, in the very amazing Ex-convento, a 16th Century Dominican monastery that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. First to read was Joyce Johnson, who is teaching the memoir workshop this week. She was unknown to me, but read some fantastic stuff from her latest book Missing Men. She may be known to some readers as the author of a memoir about her relationship with Kerouac. Next up was Magda Bogin, who read from her latest novel in progress, called Diva. Magda is the organizer of Under the Volcano, lives in Tepoztlan most of the time, and is known as Isabel Allende's translator.
And then we heard from Grace Paley, who read an uncharacteristically long story that has not appeared in her collections, in which the father tries to explain to the daughter what it means to get old. (I know there are some stories where she's touched on this elsewhere, but she said it wasn't in the books, so I believe her. There was stuff in it I didn't remember.) She followed that with some beautiful, tragic poems about war and storytelling. She tells us she's mostly been working on poetry lately. I hope we can hear more before the week is over.
This afternoon we had our first real workshop session with her. Two interesting pieces were read, one by a woman who has lived in Mexico for 30 years, one by a New Yorker. The discussion was excellent and constructive, and Grace zeroed in on what the authors might want to think about in revision. I'm sure they found it helpful. I'm not up until Tuesday. After that part of the session was over we had a great discussion about our respective travels to Vietnam, and she wants me to talk to her and Bob more about that in the coming days.