Monday, November 23, 2015
recent read; Borderland Noir
Borderland Noir, edited by Craig McDonald
Borderland Noir is an engaging anthology of short stories, novel excerpts, and essays pondering the harder edges of life on the border of Mexico. Coyotes (human traffickers,) wasted lives, murder, the drug war, banditos and echoes of the Mexican Revolution, and all sordid stops in between are examined.
The short stories are all engaging and take different directions. There are many, many stories to be told under the umbrella of borderland noir. DEA, ICE, prison guards, sheriffs, broken-down hookers, hit men, washed-up lawyers, life on the other side of the river and more.
McDonald's excerpts from his novel, El Gavilan, provide a poignant view of the illegal immigrant's journey through desert, coyotes, mad men with jugs of water and untold hardships - all for a chance - just a chance - of something better in the United States.
Jim Cornelius's essay on the the rise and fall of Pancho Villa, "Pancho Villa—Fourth Horseman of the Mexican Apocalypse," might appear out-of-place at first. But, in fact, it is a fascinating read when paired with the closing essay, "Where God And The Devil Wheel Like Vultures" by Tom Russell. The roots of bandito worship start with Villa and the Revolution (or perhaps, earlier.) The bad guys are the good guys because - for all their killing - they also help entire communities when it is to their benefit. It is chilling to see the same behavior and acceptance of drug lords and their wars. Also chilling - both items, separated in content by 100 years, give or take - mention Americans on the border watching warfare and gunfights across the river.
If you think the fictional body counts are unbelievable, just wait until you read the real statistics.
Borderland Noir is an engaging read. It drags you over the border and steeps you in sweat, beer, fear, revenge, smoke, jalapeños and blood. It is an eye-opening noir anthology about life in the shady world of the border.