“Tonight the revolution is happening around us. It is the light of this fire and my horse at the tree. It is the bodies that lie on the field not a mile from this camp. I will tell you what it is.” – Pancho Villa, The Beginning of His Excellent and Eventful Career
Adjunct Professor of English Cameron MacKenzie was recently interviewed by Rose Martin of Blue Ridge PBS to talk about his novel which details aspects of Pancho Villa’s life and role in the Mexican Revolution. Published in 2018, The Beginning of His Excellent and Eventful Career “melds myth and legend, memoir and fiction, to create an astounding psychological portrait of Villa,” wrote co-editor of Painted Bride Quarterly Marion Wrenn.
Originally from Richmond, VA, MacKenzie has worked as an adjunct English instructor at Ferrum College for three years. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from James Madison University and his Ph.D. in English from Temple University. His love of literature began with well-known authors such as William Faulkner and later intermingled with the influence of his parents. He noted his mother was an English teacher and his father was a storyteller by nature. After college, MacKenzie kicked off his career in education by teaching English in Japan.
During the interview, which aired on November 12, 2019, MacKenzie explained why he was drawn to write about Villa after reading The Memoirs of Pancho Villa: “Just the voice, so interesting and mysterious at the same time…I need[ed] to figure out who this person [was].”
Was Villa a villain? A cutthroat? Something of a Robin Hood? MacKenzie still isn’t quite sure how to describe the complexities of Villa’s personality that emerged during the chaos of the Mexican Revolution, other than to say that “at some points, the world demands a certain kind of figure. And it’s not necessarily a good figure but it’s what is necessary for what is going to happen.”
Watch MacKenzie’s interview here.