La Cuenca de Los Angeles
Ethel Merston
From: Susana Chavez-Silverman


RE: You review of my Scenes from La Cuenca

Queridísimo Carlos,

Por poco lloré when I read it, because it was so, so gratifying, first of all, to feel like someone (digo, un total stranger) completely "gets" me. And then too, your own writing is so gorgeous!...

I arrived home anoche en la cuenca de L.A. after 2 a.m., pero carrying my copy of your review bien close al corazón on the grueling and (inevitablemente...) delayed vuelos. And today (aunque no soy ni mucho menos, experta googlera, nor do I have a CaraBobo account, as you know...) prendí el Internido determined to find you and just write and thank you and ask who you are, where you are and lo and behold: tu email en mi Inbox!

Un abrazo,

--- Susana

    P.D. Two teensy-ish comentarios:

    --- Parece que you think my fear of the cougar/mountain lion was unfounded, porque escribes que "[they] haven't been seen in the area for years." Wrong, bebé! The day I arrived en ese rustic Retrete, there were yellow signs posted up ALL OVER THE PLACE, warnings that a mountain lion had JUST been spotted in the area. Ves? OK, soy paranoica (esp. about bears, sharks y ese tipo de cosa), pero en este caso, no.

    --- Escribes que "for pochos like us, la Cuenca will be the ticket"; and "SCS's writing is designed for those of us with this star-crossed affection for the two languages, the two cultures, the two sides of the same coin." Bueno, beautifully-put, pero only partially true. Es decir, si bien you are (OB-vio) my "ideal reader" (hence the subject header), I am aware (hopeful? fearful?) that other readers will pick up my book too. Es decir: I write with mixed-language polyglots foremost in my mind, quizás, and especially us, you are right ("pochos," as U call us, pero clearly with a resemanticised spin of that old chestnut/insulto, que no?): for whom the alchemy takes place in, between and among español e inglés. But you know I've lived in other latitudes también, where there are other kinds of mixturas happening (I'm thinknig especially of South Africa, donde tienen 11 lenguas oficiales). And so, en el mejor de los mundos posibles, my writing has something to say in the context of other mixes/geografías, as well.

    Your note to the editors me hizo reir mucho, carnal. And I do take your point (about the Afterword being prhps a tad too "cacademic"). Pero I wish U could see this one hostile review I got, de una mujer que cree que lo que hago es la destrucción del hemisferio occidental...o casi! En serio, this kind of reader is in the minority (basically, si no tienen al menos some knowledge of [or interest in] Spanish, no creo que they'll pick up the book), and they're fairly easily swatted away. However, with the idea that my work will be picked up for classroom use, hay que reconocer que el Afterword kind of puts it in perspective, helps teachers "explain" its significance/value, so I don't have to go through yet another tiresome entrevista doing so, no?

--- Susana Chavez-Silverman
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§     §     §

    RE: Your review of A Woman's Work


    Why is your tone so nasty toward Ethel Merston?

    --- Catherine Auman

    Our editor replies:

    Ethel Merston was a women who, despite all odds, despite all the barriers, sought out and found and in many cases lived with Gurdjieff, Ramana Maharshi, Krishnamurti, Sri Aurobindo, Gertrude Stein, Ruth Benedict, Ernest Hemingway, Brancusi, Lipschitz, James Joyce, Ghandi, both of the Cayces, Bhagavan Maharishi, Anandamayi Ma, and Ouspensky.

    And yet Bhagavan was forced to ask her, "How can you meditate to get peace of mind if you don't know what mind is?"

    According to biographer Mary Ellen Korman, even with the richest of mystical and artistic surroundings, something you and I should envy, Merston "died an unfulfilled woman."

    Face it. She was an indefatigable bourgeoise dabbler.

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