Thursday, April 17, 2008

Celebrate books at Border Book Fest

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Let’s talk some more about books.
It’s the perfect weekend for it. The Border Book Festival ends today in Mesilla. If you haven’t gone yet, head out today for a multicultural fiesta that this year includes everything from a book mart to storytelling, readings, a parade for kids and pets and a free Saturday night concert starring Perla Batellla.
Libros y Más, the festival Trade show, featuring local, regional, national and international authors, presses and artists, runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on the Mesilla Plaza.
Other free festival events today include Lucha Libre wrestling exhibitions from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., clay work with Adalucía Quan, storytelling with Amy Costales, and an afternoon reading by writers Alex Espinoza, Don Usner, Adalucía Quan and Amy Costales with music by La Familia Vigil.
If space is still available, you could also drop in for A Conversation and Coffee, featuring photographer and writer Don Usner and photographer Daniel Zolinsky at 11 a.m. today. It’s $7. Internationally-known painter, printmaker and textile Sudeshna Sengupta will offer a Mandala painting workshop at 11:30 a.m. The $20 fee includes all supplies. For information, a complete artist roster list and biographies, an events schedule, visit online at or visit BBF headquarters at the Cultural Center de Mesilla, 2231-A Calle de Parian in Mesilla, just off the Mesilla Plaza, next to the Mesilla Post Office.
But books, of course, are the main attraction, and there are still lots of them, today at the festival, with a chance to meet their authors, too.
Last week, I confessed that I’m a lifelong book addict and pondered why my reading has been tapering off lately.
Last weekend, I got back into training, I cut down on the TiVo and focused on all the tantalizing books beckoning me from my new bedroom bookcases, including a mystery I’ve been looking forward to: “The Socorro Blast,” the latest Sacha Solomon mystery by Pari Noskin Taichert.
Sacha is one of the most entertaining and eccentric sleuths to emerge in the new millennium. She’s a public relations maven who travels to various New Mexico communities to investigate and promote the eclectic wonders of the Land of Enchantment. Pari, who lives in Albuquerque, manages to artfully combine insights that are likely to surprise even experienced travel writers and native New Mexicans, with a good murder mystery and some intriguing subplots involving very human characters, from Sacra’s dysfunctional family members and her best friend, a psychic named Darnda, to her colorful boyfriends. “Failed liaisons littered my life like spring pollen on a windy day,” Sasha laments poetically.
Pari’s books are beautifully-written love letters to New Mexico...and for me, reminders of why I love my adopted homeland...and mysteries and reading in general.
“Return” is a great choice of theme for this year’s BBF, and the concept reminded me to share that love with others.
Sometimes, it’s the tried and true that lures you back into reading marathons. Every so often, I pick up some old favorites: Miss Marple, Parker Pyne, Hercule Poirot, or anything by the delightful Agatha Christie. I’ve decided it’s time to present Madeleine L’Engle’s wonderful “Wrinkle in Time” series to grandson Alexander the Great, so I may have to re-read the boxed set for the umpteen time before I ship it off, or better yet, get him a set of his own.
I think I’ll also get some extra copies of some of my favorite reads of the past year or so.
Books can inspire, illuminate, change — and even save — lives.
Psychologist Martha Stout’s brilliant treatment of the most dangerous of predators, “The Sociopath Next Door,” could be a literal lifesaver. “A sociopath has no conscience, no ability to feel shame, guilt or remorse. Since 1 in 25 ordinary Americans is a sociopath, you almost certainly know one or more than one already,” she notes and explains how these charming and charismatic monsters and rise to run corporations and nations and ruthlessly ruin lives.
Colleague Phyllis Sorrell just loaned me her copy of Lucia St. Clair Robson’s “Ghost Warrior,” an engrossing work of fiction inspired by Lozen, the “Apache Joan of Arc,” a legendary shaman, healer and warrior who fought alongside Geronimo and Victorio. I’ve been fascinated by Lozen ever since I saw her picture in the Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences and heard tales of her prophetic powers. Robson is a brilliant story teller and painted a vivid picture of Apache traditions and customs and the bitter struggle for survival during a clash of cultures in our part of the world. History buffs will doubtless find bones to pick, but sometimes there is a zeitgeist in a well-told story that can’t be beat.
Another recent discovery with local roots is “Taco Testimony” by our own award-winning author and BBF founder Denise Chávez. It’s a great gift for newcomer friends and for a much wider audience. I’ve found it resonates with anyone who grew up during a certain stage in the Baby Boomer generation with talented, eccentric and sometimes wounded but loving parents.
Share your own favorites or find some new ones. !Viva books!
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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