Readers’ Comments

Submitted 2013/5/23 for Jon Janasak
Hi Sterling,

I enjoyed our visit this morning.

I’d been hoping to run into you as I’d been anxious to congratulate you on your new book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it (Playing for Pancho Villa)! I hope that it is a big success for you—it should be! Very well written and, just a fun fun read! Good luck with your future endeavors!!

—Submitted 2013/4/28 for Kate Burt
 “Playing for Pancho Villa” takes us to Chihuahua, Mexico in 1916.   The tale invites the reader into the beautiful landscape, rich diversity and unique logic of Mexican culture. It dives directly into the upheaval and confusion of civil war as the protagonist and the people he encounters struggle to survive and maintain their integrity. The characters are well drawn, from Frank, to the mysterious Mr. Wu, to the wonderful mare Tosca, whom I wished to adopt. I became quite fond of these characters and was so pulled into the story, that I found it hard to put the book down. Having finished it too quickly, I miss it! Greatly recommended!
—Submitted 2013/3/23 for Norah Wakula, (Presumption of Innocence):
A great story, Sterling. As always.
—Submitted 2013/3/23 for Norah Wakula (Presumption of Innocence):
Lovely, lovely Sterling. I’d like to read the inspired story, too. (The inspired story is Danzón.)
—Submitted 2013/3/21 for Mauela Thiess Garcia, (Playing for Pancho Villa):
Greatly enjoyed your book, Sterling! I read through it in a couple of days because the action was so engrossing.
—Submitted 2013/3/12 for Marc Smith, (Playing for Pancho Villa):
I did want to let you know how much I enjoyed your book.  I enjoyed the characters, story, and way it all was placed historically.  In the best of ways, it reminded me of an Isabel Allende book.  I especially wanted to mention how much I liked your primary characters….For me they were believable, wonderfully varied, and I totally connected w/ your female characters.  I could blither on a bit more, but will spare you.  Felicidades!!!
—Submitted on 2012/2/28
I’m a sixty-eight year old South-African-born now living on a farm in
Kentucky. I’ve been reading Mexican Blogs for about three years —
mainly to just remind myself that there are still societies with
cadence and color, and that the blandness I find myself in is not yet
completely pervasive, but probably some sort of punishment for
unspecified transgressions. Then, a week ago,  I discovered your
website and writing.  I just needed to tell you how very much I enjoy
your writing and thoughts. I think you must also admire Borges, like I
Thank you,
Joe Williams
—Submitted Jan 24, 2012 (My Father’s Loves)
Dear S enjoying your blog and stories very much. Love the one about the notes especially. – T.M.
—Submitted Jan 24, 2012 in response to T.M. on (My Father’s Loves)
When another writer reports they especially like one of your short stories, then you go straight there and wallow in its new-found splendor, not to mention, global importance – Sterling Bennett
—Submitted Jan 23, 2012 (The Horse Warmth Blues, now published in Mexico as Playing for Pancho Villa)
I finished reading your book and loved it! Got more coming? – William English

—Submitted via Facebook Jan.2, 2012  (The Horse Warmth Blues, now published in Mexico as Playing for Pancho Villa)

Looking forward to mining your works. I want to know more about Frank and I don’t care if it’s true or fiction. What makes people return to the East? – Nick Eaton
—Submitted Jan. 2, 2012
Hi Sterling. I just got the chance to read a couple more of your stories. They are riveting. I become so involved with your people and the emotions they must be feeling. I would like to suggest someone to add as a friend. Her name is M. C., and she also lives in Sebastopol, is a writer and an artist. I am sure she would be as enchanted with your wonderful short stories as I am. May I suggest she send you a friend request? – Susan Moore

~ Submitted Jan.1, 2012 (storytelling in general)

I came from a family that didn’t talk much. And I think that’s why I write stories. I call it re-inventing family. It’s also a kind of archaeology of family. Bringing them back to the surface, the present, or to the present of a story told. Not that I reject the family I had, but rather that I have them do things and say things I wish they had told me about. I’m afraid my descendents will be very confused. But maybe a fictitious history is better than a silent history, an untold story. – Sterling

~ Submitted Jan.1, 2012  (storytelling in general)

My suspicion is that the stories I write somehow capture many of the very positive aspects of my parents that I was not able to see or appreciate when they were alive, when I was with them. Those views (values, knowledge) are accessible to the storyteller I think because we internalize so much our parents. So I guess I’m saying that, by using our imaginations, by being creative, we have access again to the gifts our parents gave us. No matter how rotten we thought they were when we were all together. I have fond memories of a very wise Ben Lewis, Santa Rosa therapist (Sonoma County, California), remarking, “If you think you’re mother’s a bitch, what does that make you?” – Sterling

~ Submitted through Facebook, Jan. 2, 2012. (storytelling in general, in reply to the above)

I used to work with folks who had difficult times grieving, particularly the loss of someone with whom they had had a difficult realtionship – often they got stuck because it seemed that the chance for any kind of healing was now over. Turns out that though someone dies, the relationship continues, and that we internalize so much more of our parents and loved ones than we can keep in consciousness at any one time, that there is a huge fertile territory for the imagination to work with in exploring and and fleshing out the relationships that are really not over, until we are. – Kevin Carr

~Submitted onJan 1, 2012  (My Father’s Loves)

Danke:) mein Vater hat tatsächlich viele viele Zettel geschrieben, meine Mutter detaillierte Tagebücher. Und diese Zettel schieben die Fantasie an. Habe ich deshalb mehr über meinen Vater zu erzählen? – Jule

Ich denke, das wird die innerliche Erzählerin entscheiden. – Sterling

Translation: Thanks! My father wrote lots of notes, my mother kept diaries. And (but) these notes are what get my imagination going. Do I therefore have more to write about my father? – Jule

Translation: I think that’s something your inner Storyteller will decide. – Sterling

~Submitted through Facebook, Dec. 28, 2011 (A Solstice Tribute to My Mother)

I went to your blog and read two of your stories. Wonderful! We have a house in Sebastopol with a persimmon tree in front. I fell in love with your mother and father in that tiny story. You are an amazing writer, and I can hardly wait to read more of your work. – Susan Moore

~Submitted on 2011/08/11 (An Otter for a Hat)

Sterling, what an exquisite wonderful story! Truly special. You capture the love between your parents so well–and in such a respectful way. And the otter-story is just incredible! What a character your father must have been! Hilarious and just wonderful that he loved animals that much. Had such a big heart. Thank you for sharing this personal story of revelation! – Michaela

Thanks, Michaela! The Press Democrat printed this story, some years ago. On an Easter. Your comment brings up an old dilemma: the close connection of fiction writing to lying! And how in the world the Reader is to distinguish the one from the other. How she is to know what is autobiographical and what is made up. There is no reason she should know one from the other, if the yarn is tall enough to suspend disbelief! So please forgive me when I tell you that the story was fiction. The elements that are true, apart from that, are: my father loved my mother, she lived to be very old, I love animals, I believe a woman (or man) can choose a good man, one member of a couple may be the stronger chooser but not necessarily anymore loving than the other, and my mother protected the privacy of their love. So, one could argue – in defense of lying – if these things are true, then the story is true. Although it’s fiction! The Press Democrat subtitled it: “A Sonoma County resident remembers his mother.” – Sterling

~Submitted on FB, December 26, 2011

“The Horse Warmth Blues” is SO GOOD, dear Sterling. It will be hard to stop reading, it already is! ” – performing artist Ana Cervantes, pianist extraordinary.

~Submitted on 2011/12/21 at 1:13 pm (Jorge and the Santa Muerte)

Life imitates art, they say sometimes. The art–I use the word loosely–would be my short story “Jorge and the Santa Muerte” at The life: on Friday, October 28, 2011, many months after I wrote the story, heavily armed troops from the 21st Military Zone, at 7:40 in the morning (the Army reported) managed to gun down nine young men and a woman, with no wounded and without a single Army casualty, close to the Church of the Santa Muerte. An Army video shows the bodies spread across a field, exposed, not exactly in defensive positions. One lies on his AK 47, in a way that seems unnatural, as if the rifle might have been added afterward. A close-up of one body shows a black cloth wristband with the word “Muerte” clearly visible. The word before it could be “Santa,” since it begins with an “S”. Not quite an accurate imitation of the story: it was all supposed to happen the other way around.

~Submitted on 2011/12/10 at 12:39 am (The Horse Warmth Blues)

Sterling – very rich story! I was carried along, and kept trying to see Frank. And saw you. Made me feel a lot. Excitement, sadness, grief, longing. Thank you.

~Submitted on 2011/12/08 at 1:02 am (Biff and the Sinking Coal Freighter)

Sterling – loved this. Been making a little dough lately telling stories. I just started writing some myself. This is inspiring. How’s life down there?
big hug

~Submitted on 2011/12/13 at 1:10 pm | In reply to Kevin Carr. (The Horse Warmth Blues)

Thanks for the comment, Kevin! It’s good to get some feedback from a trained therapist as well as friend. I’m also glad you liked the Biff story. I still can’t get it straight in my memory whether my father told me about bears and tugboats, or whether I made up Biff and told my own boys stories about him when we were all very young. I would still like to see Biff translated into Chinese and Arabic! Thanks for commenting!

~Submitted on 2011/12/13 at 1:20 pm | In reply to Kevin Carr.

Kevin, I’m trying to think what it is about storytelling. In contrast to television, film, and other media. When a person starts to tell a yarn, a tale, a story, something in me comes alive and I listen with an intensity and alertness otherwise seldom called upon or available. I guess it’s like an invitation for the imagination to start doing what it was evolved to do: bring up images unique to only oneself, glowing and wonderful, from secret places within the Self.

~Submitted on 2011/12/13 at 1:32 pm | In reply to sterlingbennett.

That’s what I’ve always felt about storytelling – that it engages the imagination in a different way. When I was doing more counseling, I often would get in the same frame of mind, though less free and more focused, as I was listening to folks. I’ve found that storytellers who in some some way enter the story themselves, rather than just presenting it, evoke ( invoke?) a more profound response.

~Submitted on 2011/11/21 at 9:13 pm (The Horse Warmth Blues)

32 chapters… congrats indeed
and I am looking forward to the hardcopy.

~Submitted on 2011/10/07 at 5:04 pm (The Fence, Nut Cake, The Curve of the Earth)

I thought I had read the best story when I read The Fence. Then you put up more. Well, I really liked Nut Cake also. Then, today, The Curve of the Earth. I want to be that woman standing in the claw foot tub on the edge of our farm property in WI. Or at least I can imagine that. Where do you get this stuff? I’d give anything to be able to express myself like that. Heck, I’d love to just think those thoughts and worry about expression later. I have sent the link to your wordpress site to several people. I usually don’t read short stories because I feel ripped off when I want 300 more pages. But these super short ones are just great.Thank you, Sterling.

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:15 pm | In reply to Colleen.

Hi, Colleen! You can read longer stuff by going to the chapters of my novel which I’m putting up on the blog. The novel is called “The Horse Warmth Blues.” It’s not 300 pages long, but it is longer than a short story and may not leave you feeling too ripped off. It does treat some of the same themes that appear in “The Fence” and “The Curve of the Earth,” but in the setting of the Mexican Revolution. It is a love story, or several love stories!

~Submitted on 2011/10/08 at 4:07 pm (The Fence, The Curve of the Earth)

Very nice indeed. You are a master of both urban and rural. Wow.

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:08 pm | In reply to Dinni Gordon.

Hi, Dini, I’m afraid I brow-beat you into repeating your email words here. Thanks for adding to my credentials, to my shameless self-promotion! Abrazos!

~Submitted on 2011/07/04 at 7:10 pm (The Mexican Mind)

¡Ah! De nueva cuenta esta vieja discusión. ¡Qué bueno que existen nuestras profundas y afortunadas diferencias; éstas nos hacen fuertes y… diferentes. En ambos sentidos.

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:30 pm | In reply to Rosa Martha.

Hola, Rosa Martha! Como sabes, mi escrito “The Mexican Mind” se trató en realidad de la mente estadounidense, y goteó de la ironía. Nunca presumiría de hablar sobre la mente mexicana. Estoy de aceurdo contigo de que las diferencias entre nosotros nos ofrecen tierra fértil para aprender.

~Submitted on 2011/05/16 at 8:27 pm (El Discurso Que No Dí: Las Mujeres No Son Vacas)

CUANTO GUSTO ME DIO LEER TU DISCURSO Y LAMENTO QUE no haya sido escuchado porque merece que muchos hombres lo escuchen y lo practiquen,pero siento un poco de desesperanza en pensar todo lo que hace falta y cuanto mas vamos a tener que pasar para que hombres y mujeres piensen asi´.Espero que a ti no te haya costado mucho dolor el llegar a este convencimiento,gracias por este momento de conciencia .

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:37 pm | In reply to omaqui. (Discurso: Día de la Mujer 2011)

Hola, Hortensia! Gracias por tus palabras de apoyo! Sí, los hombres tienen que aprender mucho más sobre si mismos, sobre su enojo, sus tristezas, sus decepciones, hasta que sepan que solo ellos sean responsables por mitigarlas. Un abrazo!

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:39 pm | In reply to my daughter-in-law.

Much thanks to you, my dear daughter-in-law, for getting me started with this blog and for leaving the first comment! I would not be embarked on this enterprise if it had not been for you! Un abrazo fuerte!

~Submitted on 2011/08/10 at 3:06 am

Hi Sterling.
I love your stories. Especially since I can see you speaking them and hear your voice so clearly. Unmistakable, your voice.
Thank you for sharing. Tell “Carolina” I say hello. Miss you all.
Stacey Tompkins

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:18 pm | In reply to staceytompkins.

Dear Stacey, Sorry to have taken so long to respond. You were my first comment, and a very encouraging one indeed. Thanks so much! I haven’t forgotten you story about the dog killing the goats. Or were they sheep? I believe you read that story at our house, during one of the reading evenings. Abrazos to you all!

~Submitted on 2011/10/15 at 6:41 am (The Horse Warmth Blues: Mr. Leibniz and the Avocado)

I like the whistling corpses.

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:05 pm | In reply to Ana Trucha.

Hi, Ana! Phil Contreras’s father either saw such whistling corpses or heard about them, here in Mexico. I asked Phil if I could use the story in my writing. He said yes. Alas, he is no longer around to see his father’s story incorporated into my writing.

~Submitted on 2011/10/22 at 9:21 am (The Down from a Thousand Geese)

Hi Sterling! I really liked your short-story. I was hooked, then I was disappointed that it ended so soon! Great job! Are we going to see you in December?

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 1:02 pm | In reply to Claudia Sandell.

Hi, Claudia! I wrote the story “The Down from a Thousand Geese” while waiting for the food to come in a tiny Chinese restaurant, on a napkin, in San Francisco. That ‘s why it’s so short! Pretty much just enough to wipe your mouth with! Abrazos to the whole family.

~Submitted on 2011/11/07 at 4:45 pm (The Horse Warmth Blues)

Yes, Sterling. I love this. Also I have finished what you have written up to date on your novel. It has such wonderful “texture and scent” When can it be held in an actual hand? I just finished a lovely book from the library in San Miguel called The Names of Things by Susan Brind Morrow. I need to read it again but it has to go back so I ordered it from Amazon. After reading your book I got a hit that you would like this as well so you can borrow it as soon as it arrives if you like. Or…you could take it out of the library. I want to know what you think after you read it. You have a fan in me. Keep writing. Fondly, Annie

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 12:56 pm | In reply to Annie Smith (The Horse Warmth Blues)

Thanks so much for the kind words. Sending stuff out into the ether is a little daunting, because you don’t know if anyone’s reading it, let alone liking it! My only guiding principle is, I think, take the risk, if there’s one you can take!

~Submitted on 2011/11/07 at 3:05 am (Biff and the Sinking Coal Freighter, The Horse Warmth Blues)

finally noticed you again twitter – I’ve not been reading it in ?? forever. nice blog, I’ve just started with tug story. enjoyed, onto the novel…

~Submitted on 2011/11/10 at 12:58 pm | In reply to Matthew Bailey Seigel (Biff and the Sinking Coal Freighter)

Hey, Matthew! Glad you found me again. I wrote the tugboat story for my five year-old granddaughter. I think my father told me similar stories about a bear and tugboats. Are you still doing art? Abrazos!

~Submitted on 2011/10/16 at 2:50 pm (Foreground)

wonderful ‘yarn’ doc…. Oxoxoxox

~Submitted on 2011/10/16 at 11:20 pm | In reply to john douglas.

Thanks, John! Know all about you now, after the NYTimes article! You’re famous!

~Submitted on 2011/10/07 at 1:43 am (A Few Words About Me)

Greetings from the beautiful State of Missouri! I have enjoyed reading some of your stories this evening. You writing style reminds me of having a conversation with you. It is

~Submitted on 2011/10/07 at 3:44 pm | In reply to Ian Davidson.

Ian, Glad you’re reading some of my stories. I’m flattered that you enjoy them. A think one of the tricks of storytelling is to be guided by the flow of one’s own speech. Your Granddad Earl speaks very much the way Mark Twain writes, when he’s talking about Missouri and the Bottom Land along the River. Good to hear from you. Y abrazos a tu Mamá!

~Submitted on 2011/09/23 at 2:56 pm (An Otter for A Hat)

That’s a good read

~Submitted on 2011/09/23 at 5:23 pm | In reply to Jenny.

Thanks, Jenny. Couldn’t have a better critic!

~Submitted on 2011/04/21 at 12:43 am

Love your blog. It is looking fabulous. Keep posting!

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