There is a part of Mexico, the west-central area encompassing the state of Jalisco and its capital, Guadalajara, which is the cradle of many significant cultural traditions that most of us associate with that great country: mariachi music, tequila and charreada (rodeos) to name a few. And Jalisco is Michael Hogan's intellectual inspiration for this bird's eye view of Mexico and elsewhere. Hogan writes with deep affection for his adopted country, mixed with an insider's keen interest about things Mexican. The inexhaustible patience and forgiveness of the Mexican character is portrayed in many of his narratives, in which life is lived largely in the slow lane but with a degree of dignity and grace that might help explain why so many North Americans choose to call Mexico home. Come ride with us on the Bus From Hell to see Cuban dictator Fidel Castro; and laugh at the drunken Santa Claus whose sleigh is damaged at the high school Christmas party. Then feel the beat of the music as the Tigres del Norte give an all-night concert in Guadalajara's immense Río Nilo stadium; squint through the eyepiece of a welder's helmet during a solar eclipse; and squirm with uneasiness during a depression-producing six-day, six-night rainstorm. Perhaps the strongest messages of this collection are those extolling the thoughts of Mexican diplomat and poet Octavio Paz, in helping understand ourselves; and those of environmentalist and writer Ed Abbey who tried to show all of us, of all nationalities, that if we want to save this world FOR ourselves, we first have to save it FROM ourselves. So follow Hogan as he examines his subjects-from the lowest crawling insects that influence life in Jalisco as it is today, to the two-legged creatures of power that would change it forever. I promise you won't regret it.
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January 28, 2013
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