LAKESIDE LITERARY SCENE
By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez
The Lakeside area has long been a mecca for writers from all over the world. In 1923, D.H. Lawrence took up residence in Chapala, where he would eventually complete one of his most celebrated novels, The Plumed Serpent. In the late thirties, W. Somerset Maugham lived for several months in Ajijic, putting the final touches on The Razor´s Edge, a book that when transposed to the screen would be nominated for several Oscars.
Another famous work had its genesis here at Lakeside. In the 1940s, Tennessee Williams spent time in Ajijic, staying at the legendary Old Posada, where almost every night he hosted a poker game. These games were the inspiration for a short story called “The Poker Night,” which eventually became the play (and later the movie) A Streetcar Named Desire.
Since then, many other (albeit less famous) writers have spent time in our area, encouraged by not only the literary tradition but the glorious weather and low cost of living. A few of the more illustrious of these scribes were Barbara Bickmore, who while living here wrote several best-selling novels, and Jim Tuck, a writer who penned several well-known non-fictional books. At present, there are several excellent writers in our midst, among them Jim Tipton, a writer/poet with a large following both in Mexico as well as the US, and Neil McKinnon, whose humorous short stories have won several awards in Canada.
Over the past fifty years, there has often been a writers’ group in Ajijic. The latest incarnation was born in 1988, when a woman named Mary Kimbrough, along with Alejandro Grattan, organized the group that still exists today. The lady, however, never returned after the initial meeting. Years later, she was asked why she had not returned to the very group she had helped to found. She replied that when she observed the rowdy antics of the writers who had responded to the call, she felt much like Dr. Frankenstein must have when first seeing the over-the-top behavior of his creation.
Today, the Ajijic Writers’ Group still sports many of the most outrageous characters to be found at Lakeside. But writers have never been noted for their docile manner. The group meets the first and third Fridays of every month in a beautiful garden restaurant, a deceptively placid setting for what often becomes a battle-ground of hotly-contested views and opinions. Visitors interested in such intellectual carnage are warmly invited.
(The author is the editor of El Ojo del Lago, who after serving a twenty-five year sentence in Hollywood as a director/writer, came to Ajijic to try his hand at writing novels. His first book, The Dark Side of the Dream, was published in 1995. His second novel, Breaking Even, was published in November of 1997. He has since published five more novels. His background can be checked out on google.com)
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