A river of language both unites and divides us and nowhere is this more true than with the stories that flow between the U.S. and Mexico. Aura Estrada's "A Failed Journey" recounts the juvenile passion inspired by an excursion to the first McDonald's in Mexico City, while Juan Villoro's hyperreal personal essay "Escape from Disney World" tells of a man's struggle with a mouse. The theme of the dream vs. the reality takes on political dimensions we rarely see in Anglophone fiction in Guillermo Fadanelli's "Vladimiro the Arab," Antonio Ortuño's Capraesque "The Headhunter" and Martín Solares' noirish "The Black Minutes." Literature looks at itself in the mirror in Álvaro Enrigue's "Death of the Author" and Carmen Boullosa's playful and innovative excerpt from The Perfect Novel. Reality shimmers and drifts in and out of focus in Alain-Paul Mallard's "Ameising" and Jose Manuel Prieto's excerpt from his novel REX. Ominously, alchemy and deaths foretold dominate the ancient Greece of


Vicente Herrasti's "Death of a Philosopher" (with an introduction by Earl and Sylvia Shorris on Mexico's Crack Generation of writers) and suffuse an excerpt from


Gabriela Vallejo's The True Story of the Labyrinth. And Monica de la Torre's "Doubles" has the author-also the translator-wondering just how many of her there might be. Elsewhere, anthropologist, linguist, and Hispanophile Liza Bakewell considers patriarchy, matriarchy, and the culture of cursing, and an interview with


Eloy Urroz provides a context for his own and his compatriots' work. We are in national debt to the brilliance and generosity of guest editor Francisco Goldman, who has convened these writers in one of our best issues yet.

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