It’s hard to know how to take on an anthology of 22 works about Mexico by living, English-speaking authors who live or at least have spent a lot of time here. Where to begin? While the stories and essays in “Mexico: Sunlight & Shadows” have been evenhandedly listed in alphabetical order, the idea of reading them that way did not spur me forward.
So, floundering for a toehold, I decided on something short and hopefully sweet. I was rewarded with E.G. Brady’s three-page essay hilariously recapping his bus trip to the U.S. embassy in Hermosillo with his kids and Mexican wife. Although Brady’s comic style is low-key, for me his tale was LOL. In fact, I liked it so well that it became the model I aspired to in writing this review. (How am I doing, E.G.?)
However, the anthology’s title, “Mexico: Sunlight and Shadows,” clearly say this is not a comic anthology and that more serious stuff — the “shadows” — lay ahead.
Carol M. Mercasin’s piece caught my eye next, not because it is dark (it isn’t) or short (it is), but because of its title, “Where We Learn to Love Imperfection.”
Chaos, is how I usually put it, and Mercasin’s focus on imperfection made me recall my forlorn theory that attributes everything that seems crazy or even corrupt in Mexico to its humanism, its preference for dealing with an individual, however quirky he or she may be, rather than with a nice, predictable system. (According to my hypothesis, humanism contrasts with more mechanistic cultures in the north where people are enamored of computers, cloverleaf interchanges, legal systems and 501(c) charitable organizations.)
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