Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mark Saunders - Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak - Guest Post

My thanks to Mark Saunders for stopping by City Girl Who Loves to Read for a guest post during the blog tour for his book, Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak.

Guest Post
It doesn’t matter if it’s about a fish out of water, a stranger in a strange land, or landing a strange fish, all such stories are largely about setting. Shortly after the story opens, if not at its very beginning, the central character is thrown into an unfamiliar milieu and events—good and bad—take place. The story is off and running.

In my case, my wife, Arlene, and I, facing the loss of both of our high-tech jobs in Portland, Oregon, while in our late 50s, elected to drop out, sell almost everything, and move to the middle of Mexico, where we didn’t know a soul and could barely speak the language. In other words, we dramatically changed our setting and by doing so dramatically changed our lives. I wrote about our two-year experience in the humorous memoir Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak.

After a six-day road trip we landed in San Miguel de Allende and discovered we were living in a cash-based society where nobody ever had change. In a culture where mañana did not always mean tomorrow but could mean anything from later to not now to fat chance you’ll ever see me again. In a country where the most common unit of measurement was not the kilo or the kilometer, as guidebooks would have you believe, but something known as más o menos, simply translated as “more or less.”

We lived in La Lejona, a mostly Mexican middle class neighborhood with wide, cobbled or unpaved streets, dust everywhere except during the rainy season, and an impressive backdrop of cacti and mountains. La Lejona is the kind of Mexican neighborhood where foreigners pat themselves on the back for living among the locals while Mexicans pat themselves on the back for living among foreigners.

La Lejona is Spanish for “far away” and, as I understand it, was the name of the original hacienda in the area, which still exists tucked up against the hillside along a ravine. But far away is a relative term, and our neighborhood was less than a thirty-minute, mostly flat trip, into the popular historic Centro on foot, a fifteen-minute bus ride, ten minutes by car or taxi.

Setting is key in my memoir. For instance, one chapter (“Yes, We Have No Chihuahuas”) covers the many different classes of dogs in town, from rooftop dogs to unseen dogs behind locked garage doors to tiny dogs carried in beaded handbags. In another chapter (“How Are Things in Doctor Mora?”) I talk about why the town is called The City of Fallen Women, which has nothing to do with the male-to-female ratio or seduction and everything to do with the simple yet painful act of falling down and twisting an ankle and the embarrassment of doing it in public. Still another chapter, one I refer to as my Moby Dick chapter (“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Firecracker”), includes a detailed litany of the on-going fiestas that take place in San Miguel.

In short, because we lived in a Spanish-speaking country but could only speak “muy poco” Spanish, almost every chapter stated or implied the impact of this setting in our lives. We were, after all, clueless expats.

About the Book
Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak

Book Details:
Price: $14.95 paperback, $9.99 ebook
Format: Paperback, ebook
Publisher: Fuze Publishing
Published: November 2011
Pages: 298
ISBN: 9780984141289
Genre: Memoir, Humor
Buy Links: Amazon, Fuze Publishing, Kindle, Nook

Ay, chihuahua! Ay, caramba! Oy vey!

In early December 2005, Mark Saunders and his wife, along with their dog and cat, packed up their 21st century jalopy, a black Audi Quattro with a luggage carrier on top, and left Portland, Oregon, for San Miguel de Allende, three thousand miles away in the middle of Mexico, where they knew no one and could barely speak the language.

Things fell apart almost from the beginning. The house they rented was as cold as a restaurant’s freezer. Their furniture took longer than expected to arrive. They couldn’t even get copies of their house keys made. They unintentionally filled their house with smoke and just as unintentionally knocked out the power to their entire neighborhood. In other words, they were clueless. This is their story.

About the Author
Mark Saunders

An award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and cartoonist, Mark Saunders tried standup comedy to get over shyness and failed spectacularly at it — the standup part, not the shyness. He once owned a Yugo and still can’t remember why. Nearly 30 of his plays have been staged, from California to New York - with several stops in-between - and two plays have been published.

With three scripts optioned, his screenplays, all comedies, have attracted awards but seem to be allergic to money. Back in his drawing days, more than 500 of his cartoons appeared nationally in publications as diverse as Writer’s Digest, The Twilight Zone Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post.

As a freelancer, he also wrote gags for the popular comic strip “Frank and Ernest,” as well as jokes for professional comedians, including Jay Leno. Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak is his first book.

Connect with Mark:
Web Site

1 comment:

  1. Setting definitely plays an important role in Mark's book. It's almost like a character as well as a location.