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Fan mail and sodomy

8 October 2008

Everybody’s a critic.

I received this from my e-mail account at my publisher’s website:

What if I want my money back. I may not like your book for all kinds of reasons. America is full of trivia and trash and, well, you know, sodomists. Money is what you count on getting. I’m not one to waste my time on prevarication. It’s like feeding that lust.Good luck anyway.

Maybe I’ll see your book in the library whenever.

I hate gringos.

I not sure why my correspondent tells me they will not buy my book, then seems to think the author has any control over the bookseller.  A little secret.  Authors write books for people called publishers.  They produce books, that are sent to distributors.  Who send books to retailers.  Who sell the books.  Whether they allow returns has nothing to do with the author.

When it comes to money, the author will admit that it “is what you count on getting” at some vague point in the future.  While I hope the book does have very good sales, I’m afraid my “fan” hasn’t a clue as to the economics of writing.  I suppose its possible to make money from writing (though genres other than Latin American history — like industrial magazine articles or technical writing or porn — pay much, much better).  As it is, the publisher will need to sell around 10,000 copies before my royalties begin to cover the income I would have earned while working on this book, had I been doing something lucrative, like  … oh… cleaning toilets at the salario minimo for this part of Mexico.

America is full of trival and trash and , well I know, sodomists [sic… the word the correspondent means is ‘sodomite’].  I’m rather disturbed about the first two — it’s one of the reasons I live in Mexico and hope to cut through some of the trivial and trashy misconceptions about this country.  As to sodomists, the more the merrier.  But, when it comes to sodomy, I’m not sure my correspondent has looked around Mexico.

While I’m surprised to see anyone in the 21st century using such a dated term, one that I don’t even find in Church documents any more, but I can guess what the correspondent means.  Apparently unaware of the very good statistical work in the sexual habits of this country (no need to get into them here) suggesting it’s a fairly common practice, my correspondent is ignoring Mexican history.

Are you sure your Aztec history is ... ummm... straight?

Are you sure your Aztec history is … ummm… straight?

After all, the Olmecs — like every other human society — made reference to gay oral sex (see Gods, Gachupines and Gringos, page 23, footnote #4 … assuming the page numbers don’t change from the galleys I have) and Nahuatl had plenty of words for various same-sex activities.  And, although I don’t think Sor Juana’s erotic references to other women necessarily meant she was a lesbian (as detailed in GGG, page 98), it is difficult to overlook “obvios” like the pirate Jean Lafit (page 105) or Porfirio Diaz’ son-in-law, Ignacio de la Torre (GGG, page 217, footnote 89; page 235, footnote 96).   And, since I have said I’m writing about foreigners, one would be remiss in not noting that Langston Hughes’ very pro-Mexican sympathies were at least partly due to his homosexuality (GGG, page 316).  And, Mexico, being very much part of the 21st century, not paying attention to gay rights in the country (GGG, pages 410, 427, 429, 432, 437) would indeed create a “trivial and trashy” book.

One “sodomical” (if that’s a word) incident I did exclude… frankly because I’d never heard of it and I think it’s a load of caca … is the contention by Mexican writer and career diplomat José Luis Basulto Ortega that Moctezoma and Hernan Cortés had, in the delicate phrasing of Laura Martinez,  “an amourous relationship.” ¡Cuiloni! Historia de una Lágrima was only published last month, and I never had a chance to read it.

Basulto, according to Martinez,:

… claims to have “fifteen documents” that irrefutably prove a homosexual relationship between Cortés and Moctezuma, and that, in a nutshell, Mexico was lost because of a queer (”México se perdió por una loca.”)

“Loca,” I’m sure my correspondent realizes, is not an unknown word for “sodomist” — and a not very nice one at that — which obviously shows again that the acts are not unknown in Mexico. And, while I don’t pretend to any sort of fluency in the language, even the most jejune student of Nahuatl knows that cuiloni translates as “cock-sucker”, a rather trivial and trashy term that pre-dates the Conquest.

I doubt I would have included the book among the fifteen or so pages of reference works (though I do mention an important Mexican novel, Adonis Garcia: Vampire of Colonia Roma — that’s the English translation, since I wrote the book for English-speakers — yet further evidence that “sodomists” are not unknown in Mexico, in this case, one who turn a better profit from it than one does from writing histories).  The very scholarly “sodomist” magazine Enkidu dismisses the MEXICAN writer’s book on two grounds.. it’s irresponsible (in implying that “sodomists” are malanchistas) and  those “fifteen documents” are never referenced, nor… does it seem… do they exist.

¡Cuiloni! Historia de una Lágrima is only a novel… but it seems Mexican writers can turn out a work “full of trivia and trash and, well, you know, sodomists”.  Basulto probably wrote his novel expecting to make money.  Sort of like a lot of hated gringo writers do.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Rushing permalink
    8 October 2008 10:16 am

    The Religious right, why the Republican party looks silly every election year. When will these people go away?


  1. Mr. Justice Roberts and the Aztecs | The Mex Files

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