April Literary Sala—Dogs in Venice and Murder in Sarajevo
By Carole Schor
San Miguel Literary Sala Presents:
Ron Alexander and Ian Thornton
Thu, Apr 14, 5–7pm
Hotel Posada de la Aldea
Ancha de San Antonio 15
100 pesos (50 pesos for Literary Sala members)
Complimentary Wine Reception
Two thriving novelists, both greatly inspired by their love of San Miguel, will present stories that both move and inform readers. They will discuss both their books and their lives as writers at the Literary Sala monthly author reading on April 14.
Author of Dogs in Venice as well as three other novels and many essays and stories, Ron Alexander receives his inspiration from his own life. He is a gay man who survived the AIDS crisis himself but lost many of his friends. His essay Survivors Guilt, tells the story of his past and his present, from the time he came out to the time he was forced to “check the box” to avoid going to Vietnam, flashing forward to his partner dying of AIDS, and then to the heartwarming gift from his mother from Indiana helping him make an AIDS quilt panel to memorialize his lost love.
Ron was a businessman for many years, working around the world for an oil company, a sought-after actor in commercials directed at the senior audience, a teacher at UCLA Writers’ Program, and now a happily retired writer and teacher living the good life in San Miguel. As a teacher and writer he hopes to inspire others to write, and to write because they love to write and not for any other purpose or goal.
“Put me in the company of writers who write because they have questions and not answers. Whenever an event or a situation in life confounds me, I write. Without an outline, without any idea of where I’m going or where I might end up, I write. Without judgment or an axe to grind or any attempt to convince others to feel a certain way about things, I write. I write with one motive only: to think. And just as the writing provokes me to think, I hope to provoke my reader to think, because if I’m able to do that, then what I’ve written will be an emotional journey we take together.
“My philosophy as an instructor, therefore, is simple: I encourage students to write from a position of inquisitiveness and not with an agenda. I ask them to write because they have questions, not because they have answers.”
Ian Thornton’s historical novel, Murder in Sarajevo, is the story of the pitiable Johan Thoms, who took a wrong turn and changed the fate of the world, the blame for which follows him through his life. Johan, while chauffeuring the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the royal entourage across Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, got caught up in a daydream, took a wrong turn, and drove right into the aim of the Serbian assassin hired to kill Ferdinand. The assassin took advantage of his unbelievable good luck and murdered the unguarded Archduke and his pregnant wife. This incident has been cited as the start of the First World War. To Johan, however, it is not only the impetus for WWI, but all historic events that followed: the Russian Revolution, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Hitler, the Second World War, the gas chambers, the atomic bomb, the Cold War…
How often do any of us wonder, “What if I had done this, rather than that? How would my life, or the lives of others, have changed?” The choices we make every day, no matter how trivial or how very important, affect everything that follows for us and for those around us.
Ian Thornton’s fantastic, allegorical story, much like the movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, allows the reader to believe momentarily in the unbelievable. As one reviewer put it, “If a writer can infuse human interest and a semblance of truth into a fantastic tale, the reader will suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative.”
Ian Thornton says, “I love San Miguel so much. It is a Shangri-La. My time there seems like an out-of-body experience now. It was so rich and colorful and vibrant. It was magical.
“The lack of shackles and the freedoms of Mexico are very inspiring. It seems a place free from the constraints of time and from the rest of the world. Mexico is not just a geographical area for me, and I know this sounds glib and clichéd, but Mexico, for the writer, is a state of mind.
“While I’m here in San Miguel, walking the cobblestone streets provides inspiration. I discover ideas and narratives and arcs and characters, always seeing things from different directions, angles and perspectives.”
Ian says to the “creatives” here in San Miguel: “Breathe in every second in that delicious citadel, you lucky buggers, and just keep on keeping on. You are pursuing the finest of dreams, in the finest place on earth. Love it and harness the energy and inspiration to do it for as long as you bloody well can.”
Join these two fascinating writers and the San Miguel Literary Sala on April 14 at 5pm at the Hotel La Aldea. Admission is 50 pesos for members and 100 pesos for nonmembers, including a wine and snack reception. Membership in the Literary Sala supports not only the literary life of San Miguel, including scholarships for teens and reading projects for children in the campo; it also offers attractive benefits like reading groups, discounts at the monthly author readings, as well as discounts and priority seating at the Annual Writers’ Conference. A Membership Table will be available at the April 14 Literary Sala event. You may also obtain information and join online at sanmiguelliterarysala.org.