Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kaya McLaren

Kaya McLaren is the author of Church of the Dog, On the Divinity of Second Chances, How I Came to Sparkle Again, and most recently, The Firelight Girls.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. McLaren's reply:
Mexico has been calling me for a couple years and in mid-October, I answered the call. I packed my things, loaded what I could not live without into my Xterra, and spent six days driving south from Washington State all the way down to Todos Santos, which is near the tip of the Baja Peninsula on the Pacific Side. Last year when Mexico called, I picked up the phone and sort of put her on hold. I came down for a glorious week and a half, most of which was spent sea kayaking the Isla Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez near La Paz and it was there that I began reading Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros. Cisneros has long been one of my all-time favorite writers, so I felt like a game show winner when I found this giant hardcover at a used bookstore in Bandon, Oregon the previous summer. I’d been saving it for this trip, knowing the words would taste even better in Mexico, and they did. So delicious was reading the beginning of this book here, that I stopped where I was when the vacation was over and saved the rest of the book all year until my return. I have only just now picked it back up. Cisneros’ voice is second to none. It’s bold, authentic, honest, innocent at times and very witty at other times.

I’m one of those people who like to read a few different kinds of books at the same time—fiction to suit both my creative mind and non-fiction my analytical mind, and sometimes a memoir to entertain both minds at the same time. At the moment, I’m reading The View From Casa Chepitos, by Judith Gille, who, like me, is also from the Pacific Northwest and finds herself called to Mexico. Her memoir chronicles buying a lovely old house in a questionable neighborhood on an impulse and describes the friendships she and her family develop with their Mexican neighbors. Being a recent transplant, I have a lot of questions about cultural differences and where I fit into it all, and somehow Gille’s memoir provides me with a little more understanding.

Finally, purely for my analytical mind, I’m reading The Guide to Baja Sea Kayaking by Dave Eckhardt. While I don’t recall the exact price of this book, I do recall that I had to sell a kidney to get it, but now that I have it in my hands, I understand why. Each page has satellite photos with different beaches and notes on those beaches detailed to help kayakers pick the heavenly ones and avoid the ones with unsafe swells or unfriendly people. Despite the fact that it might appear to be a dry guidebook, Eckhardt’s writing is personable and fun to read. I loved my taste of kayaking in the Sea of Cortez last winter, and with Eckhardt’s help, I hope to explore the islands near Loreto in the upcoming year. Perhaps I’ll even get up to Magdelena Bay, which is also covered in his book, and meet some friendly gray whales. I did see the first whales of the year pass by offshore the day before yesterday. They’re on the way. Wherever I get to this year, there’s no question this is a book I will use for the rest of my life.
Visit Kaya McLaren's website.

--Marshal Zeringue