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Literary Sala Presents Stories of Two Lives — Mexican and American

By Carole Schor

Matthew Carroll

San Miguel Literary Sala
Viola Canales
The Tequila Worm
and Matthew Carroll
Who Quinn Became
Thu, Nov 13, 5pm
Hotel Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio
100 pesos general, 50 pesos for Literary Sala members
Complimentary Wine Reception

Viola Canales, winner of the Pura Belpré Award for Literature, and Matthew Carroll, a San Miguel memoirist, will present two very different life stories at the monthly Literary Sala.

Viola Canales

Mexican culture continues to confound and delight us, as we constantly seek to understand the differences we face being foreigners in a strange land. While, as guests in Mexico, we struggle to learn the nuances of the Spanish language and Mexican culture, Mexicans in the United States struggle to learn how to fit into a country dominated by blondes and shopping malls. Sometimes, the easiest way to learn and understand a new culture is through the eyes of a child or young adult. Viola Canales will be reading from her young adult novel, The Tequila Worm, a heart-warming, entertaining, and educational novel filled with stories of a life that bridges two cultures, Mexican and American.

Viola Canales is an American writer who grew up on the border in McAllen, Texas. She is descended from an important Mexican family who owned land on both sides of the Rio Grande and who were infelicitously split up by the Mexican-American War. She has published a short story collection, Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), and a novel, The Tequila Worm (2005) for which she won the Pura Belpré Award in 2006. In an interview in Harvard Magazine, Viola says, “The Tequila Worm is a coming-of-age story told by its young narrator, Sofia, who earns a scholarship to the fictional St. Luke’s Episcopal school and faces el otro mundo—another world.” It is the story of a Mexican-American girl and her people who are poor and have come from outside communities, and about how the majority of society sees them and their rituals and traditions. We are so tired of stories of gangs and drugs. Tequila Worm celebrates the positive side of our culture—the family, the spirituality, the food, and the music.”

Canales attended St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School. She has been a captain in the US Army, a litigator, and an official in the Clinton Administration. She is currently a lecturer at Stanford Law School, where she teaches courses that combine law and fiction writing.

Viola Canales has traveled to San Miguel to be the featured author for the Libros Sin Fronteras weekend. More than 300 copies of her book, The Tequila Worm, have been distributed to children in several rural communities, which she will visit in order to meet the children and sign their books. For information about this event, contact Susan Neulist at

Matthew Carroll

Matthew Q. Carroll, a long-time resident of San Miguel, tells another kind of story in his memoir, Who Quinn Became: An Orphan’s Story of Lament, Levity, and Love, a self-published work that has filled Matthew with a sense of accomplishment and power. “Authenticity and power come from your personal experience,” he says. His own life experience is a personal odyssey that includes family tragedy, Moratorium to End the War March on Washington, the floor of the New York stock exchange, Woodstock music festival, a drive across the Sahara in a VW microbus, teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Vermont, and now, retiring to San Miguel de Allende.

Carroll doesn’t consider himself a “writer.” As he told me, “If I had thought about my limitations before I started, I probably wouldn’t have started.” So limitations be damned, he wrote the memoir to revisit relationships, friendships, and experiences that he felt needed remembrance. The unaddressed pain and suffering of his parents’ death, particularly the suicide of his father, affected his life in many ways, in particular how he interacts in his relationships with family and friends. “I’m 72 years old, and the feelings about his death when I was 14 never go away. They diminish over time, but they never go away.”

As for advice to aspiring writers here in San Miguel, Matthew Carroll says, “I believe that if you are motivated to a degree of almost obsessiveness, you will create something you will like. Whether other people will like it is not important.” As to putting it into a book, with a cover, and getting it up on Amazon, “In this world we live in now, there aren’t the high jumps or the bars to creating books. You can do it!”

Join us at 5pm on Thursday, November 13, for a bi-cultural look at life and lives. The event will be held at Hotel Aldea on the Ancha, 50 pesos for members of the Literary Sala, 100 pesos for non-members, including wine and snacks.


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