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February 2006

A River Runs Through Us: Mexican Literature Now


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.

A Failed Journey

They warned her that one more offense against good behavior and the promised trip to the promised land (the United States) would be cancelled and to please return the mechanical pencil


Escape from Disney World

After having spent his childhood doing comic strips and his youth doing animated cartoons, Mickey Mouse finally discovered his true vocation as a corporate insignia. In heraldic times, only

Vladimiro the Arab

Vladimiro Pérez isn't exactly an expert on the Islamic world, though he likes to think of himself as one. Sedentary by nature, a man without great ambitions, he has lived for many


The Headhunter

The Future had reacted to Garza's victory with disbelief and resignation. The editorial page during the weeks following his inauguration was devoted to voicing outrage over the series of

from “The Black Minutes”

Up until now, the most important nightmare I've had in my life I had when I was traveling by bus on a highway lined by pines. I haven't been able to decipher its meaning, at least,


On the Death of the Author

Written on my soul is your face And when I write about you it is you that I desire -Garcilaso de la Vega There are stories that seem impossible to tell. It must be at least ten years since


from “The Perfect Novel”

Chapter Five We were working on "recording" the following scenes from my novel: the Sunday lunch in the garden at Manuel's house, where the two families part amicably, mothers and aunts



For years my grandfather treated his cataracts with Cineraria maritime, a therapy recommended by his friend Chiunti, el Licenciado. I don't know what cineraria is-most likely a plant.

from “REX”

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Jose Manuel Prieto's Rex is a novel like none other. Its epigraph, from Bishop Berkeley, "Things are what they appear to be," is the first of many indications that

from “The Death of the Philosopher”

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: In 1996, a group of young Mexican writers published a manifesto about a new wave of Mexican writing in reaction to the Latin American Boom. They called themselves the

from “The True Story of the Labyrinth”

One "Early in the morning, when the sun begins to reveal the objects around us, for me it will be late: another day to fill me with fear," Clara confessed to herself as she looked at her



From: [email protected]í To: Undisclosed recipients Subject: abandoned I am looking for Mónica de la Torre, my biological mother. She traveled from Argentina to

My Madre, Pure as Cumulus Clouds

He wraps his left fist around the shot of bourbon. Then types, with his free index finger. "It can be dangerous to say madre in Mexico." His warning peppered with laughter. "I don't know


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