Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breaking News!

Isabel will be signing at the Latin book Fair in Los Angeles this coming Saturday!
 A branch of the Guadalajara Book Fair, it is the largest in the world for books in Spanish. There are so many Spanish speaking people in the U.S. that it makes sense to have this book fair in Los Angeles. There is one every year in Miami, which is very well attended, and now there is one on the West Coast. If you are in Los Angeles, please come!
Click here for a link to the event.  
And here is more information: 
The University of Guadalajara and by the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) is set to launch one of the most ambitious events ever held to promote Spanish: LéaLA, the first Spanish-language book fair in California. This three-day event seeks to encourage reading and promote Spanish-language books and English-language books written by U.S. Latino authors.

Sisters of Perpetual Disorder

Isabel tells me that on Sunday (Easter) her tribe gathered for the first pool party of the year. They had brunch and then went to see the movie Water For Elephants, based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen. It's the story of a young veterinary student who joins the circus in the thirties, during the Depression. He falls in love with the wife of the owner of the circus, played by the great Austrian actor Christoph Waltz, who portrays a perfect psychopath villain. But the real star of the movie, of course, is Rosie the elephant. 

More news from Isabel:
Dear Sarah,

On Friday, April 22, I hosted a conversation with Jean Shinoda Bolen at Book Passage, my favorite bookstore, located here in Marin County. A psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, and spiritual teacher, Jean just published Like a Tree, which is her tenth book. We have been friends for nineteen years and are both members of a small circle of women that we call "Sisters of Perpetual Disorder." It was a lovely evening, with elegant round tables, Chilean wine (Veramonte; you can get it a Cost Plus) and food from Insalata. People commented that Jean and I should go on the road as stand-up comediennes. Maybe…but we would have to stand on fat telephone books because we are both rather short in stature!

Next Wednesday, April 27, Judge Baltasar Garzón of Spain is coming for dinner. Garzón is a criminal lawyer and judge who gained worldwide notoriety in October 1998 when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.  Since then he has been involved in several cases regarding high profile criminals and human rights abuses, but when he tried to uncover and publicize the crimes of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, he was attacked by the extreme right in his country and lost his job. Apparently, for some people, it's acceptable to prosecute foreign criminals but not their own. (We will have catering by Visconti and, of course, wine by the famous Chilean winemaker, Agustin Huneeus, who makes award-winning wine in Chile and Napa Valley).


With so much going on, I wrote back to ask her if she was doing much reading these days. (She is on sabbatical, after all.) But it sounds like I don’t need to worry; there are still a million books on her bedroom side table. So of course I asked her for a few recommendations.

Her response:

I finished reading Ann Patchett's new novel, State of Wonder, and enjoyed it very much. She is the author of several books; probably the best known is Bel Canto, which you HAVE to read. This new novel is a very entertaining adventure about a group of scientists in search of a miraculous drug in the Amazon.

I also read A Widow's Story: A Memoir, by Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific writers I know (the other one being Mario Vargas Llosa).  She wrote A Widow's Story: A Memoir, which is a no-nonsense, sharp memoir, after the loss of her lifelong husband. She didn't remain alone for long, however; she recently married a scientist. Joyce has written more than fifty books and I have to wonder how she found time to date!!

Fifty books! Chop chop, Isabel, you better get cracking!

On a related note, here is a preview of the new Isabel Allende website, where we will attempt to showcase many of her international first edition book covers. Isabel has only written eighteen books but they have been translated into thirty-five languages. So that’s a lot of covers for us to show off. I can’t wait!

Sneak peek: Some of the many covers of The House of the Spirits.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Remember last week’s post about the accumulation of stuff, excess shopping and eating too well? Well, Lori and Isabel sent me lots of photos during their NYC trip, and in the all photos they seem to be either shopping or fawning over the fine young man at DKNY.

Isabel with Ina...SHOPPING!
Hmmm. But it’s not as bad as it looks. Isabel tells me that most of the shopping took place BEFORE the workshop. (Ah, that explains it!) Here is what she writes:

Sarah, here’s more about the trip to NYC:

Meet Ina. She is a new and dear friend of Lori’s. Ina and Lori met in Oaxaca at a Mary Ellen Mark photography workshop. This absolutely, charming woman owns five up-scale consignment stores in SoHo with fabulous clothes—especially handbags—and she took us shopping a day before the Omega Conference, and fortunately we had not yet heard Geneen Roth warn against compulsive shopping. We bought something at all five stores!  Look for INA stores if you are in New York.

We also bought a lot of stuff at the DKNY store on Madison Avenue just because the sales person was a handsome Colombian guy by the name of Rodolfo Duque. (See his picture.) We didn’t want him to think that we were cheap...

Rudolfo @ DKNY: I'll take one of him please!
We saw an extraordinary play: War Horses. I can’t even begin to describe it, I can only say I was profoundly moved by the power of art. During the First World War (1914-18) ten million people and eight million horses died. The horses in the play are phenomenal sculptures, life size, completely movable and expressive. Two minutes into the first act I could have sworn that they were real horses. This play reinforced my conviction that war is madness. The only hope for peace is that women get really involved in the management of the world. We have to get rid of the patriarchy; we need a leap in evolution, for Goddess sake!!

For a little hint of what War Horses it like, see this YouTube movie:

After I viewed the one-minute clip I started to cry, so I know I cannot EVER see that play. 
Here also is a link to a TED conference with the puppeteers that created the horses, fascinating!
Click here for that.

Isabel Allende Interview (The Artist Toolbox)

Watch this amazing interview this week only! Click Here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Workshop Addicts

Lori and Isabel have been in New York for the last week. I have missed them both very much. I have so many things to blog about right now it is an embarrassment of riches as they say. I wanted to know all about the workshop they attended and I asked Isabel to tell me about it, this is what I got (I was eating a cinnamon roll wearing a new shirt when I read this, the end made me cry! OH, and note, she even remembered to put an "h" on my name!):

Dear Sarah, 
Lori and I had such a good time at the Omega Women’s Conference in New York (April 1-3) that we decided to go back every year. We may become workshop addicts. We had three enlightening (and very entertaining) workshops, one with Geneen Roth about the way we handle food and we spend money, and two about resilience with Joan Borysenko. There you have two wise spiritual women who also look great! 

With Roth I learned a lot about food and money. I had never seen the connection between them but the truth is that the way one does something is the way one does everything. That means, for example, that if one overeats without paying attention, trying to compensate for loneliness, anxiety or any other negative feeling, most probably one buys unnecessary stuff with the same compulsion and for the same reasons. Eating and shopping can never satisfy the perpetual hunger of the soul. What do I really want?  What would feel good in my body? We live in a mad culture that emphasizes body image and consumerism. The mark of our madness is when we accumulate more than we need.

I came out of the workshop determined to never weigh myself again, eat only when I am hungry, and think before putting anything in my mouth. The same for shopping: buy what I need and think before I do it. My closet is full of several identical black skirts and tops, absurd dressy stuff that I never wear, and high heels in which I couldn’t possibly walk. I keep buying make-up with the fantasy that a particular shade of lipstick will give me Julia Roberts sex-appeal. 

Borysenko taught about resilience and strength. She said that resilient people are not pessimistic or overly optimistic, they are realists. Pessimists take everything personally, they are paranoid or they blame themselves. Optimists tend toward magical thinking and usually end up very disappointed. Realists, however, evaluate the problem and look for ways to optimize their possibilities. Resilient people can think outside the box, they have a sense of humor, they reach out for support, and they are not afraid of change, because for them difficulties are challenges. They hang in there when the temptation is to bolt away from scary situations. 

Part of the workshop was about faith but not religious faith only. In one of the exercises we had to get in pairs—terrified, I clung to Lori—and each person had five minutes to talk about faith from the heart, without thinking much. I discovered that I have faith in my capacity to get back on my feet and my intuition; I have faith in Willie, my current husband, Nico, my permanent son, and Lori my blessed daughter-in-law. I also have faith that everything in the immense universe and beyond is connected, we are all particles of the same spirit, unlimited, indestructible, divine, so I don’t have to worry about my minuscule self or my minuscule (albeit wonderful) life. 

Joan Borysenko talked a lot about forgiveness because, how can you be resilient if your energy is wasted in grudges and you live in the past? The first step is to forgive oneself, then to dispute one’s negative story. People often play the victim in their own life stories. I don’t have that problem: I am always Zorro in the narration of my epic life. As a writer, I know that if I change three adjectives in a paragraph I can change the tone and the mood of a scene. Here’s an example: It was a cold and rainy day when the maiden met the bulky stranger who would change her life. Now change three adjectives: It was a crisp and luminous day when the maiden met the handsome stranger who would change her life. Personally, I have chosen carefully the adjectives to create my own Technicolor legend. Try it. Don’t worry if it digresses a little from the truth, nobody is checking.