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Dancing Alone in Mexico: From the Border to Baja and Beyond Paperback – July 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Dancing Alone in Mexico, Ron Butler offers an enchanting account of his capricious travels criss-crossing Mexico, presenting a country rich with history and alive with present-day vigor. An effort to maintain a relationship with his two children after his wife leaves him for the inland city of Guadalajara leads Butler on a trek through almost every region of Mexico, showing off the land and its people with a mix of straightforward historical research and tantalizing personal discoveries.

Just as Mexico is colored with celebration, so are Butler's travels. He tastes the marrow of the land, not merely as a tourist, but as a participant in local traditions. He seizes an opportunity to visit the last great American Matador, Diego O'Bolger, capturing the machismo spirit of the matador's dressing room. He claims to find the world's most delectable cup of coffee in the venerable city of Veracruz. He describes area legends, such as an ageless pearl diver forever searching the waters off La Paz for the best pearl its oyster beds can produce, and the portentous mummies stolen from unpaid graves and grotesquely displayed in a museum of Guanajuato. The reader is also treated to an in-depth exploration of the tangled relationship between Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera, two of Mexico's most famed artists.

Butler gives of himself in these pages. His sentiments are fiercely expressed--often as veracious loneliness or estrangement: "The trip seemed incomplete somehow; I was sorry it was over. I imagined that, meanwhile out at sea, deep below the water's surface, a bearded figure with ghostly flowing hair paused briefly and then continued on, content in the knowledge, for the moment at least, that someone, somehow, shared his ceaseless wandering." Dancing Alone in Mexico is as alluring and sweet as cajeta, the caramelized Mexican candy, and will draw any reader into reveries of this magical land. --Jacque Holthusen

From Library Journal

Butler, author of Fodor's Guide to New Mexico and contributor of travel articles to Travel & Leisure, has written anything but a usual travel guide. This is actually an insightful travel narrative of the country that the author traversed after his wife divorced him and took their two children to Guadalajara. The first part, appropriately titled "The Breakup," is brief and focuses on the author's failed marriage; the second part, the bulk of the book, dedicates each chapter to a particular area of Mexico; and the third, final part consists of three chapters on miscellaneous items: food, Cantinflas, and art. The most interesting parts of Butler's storytelling are his own views of the people and the various places he visits. Even though he sometimes mentions a hotel or restaurant that he stumbles upon, he doesn't provide the reader with prices, ratings, or listings, as would be expected from a typical guide. Instead, Butler devotes perhaps a bit more space than necessary to discussing his obvious passionDart. Nevertheless, this book is highly recommended for all libraries.DGeorge M. Jenks, Bucknell Univ., Lewisburg, PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 205 pages
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press (July 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816520232
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816520237
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,049,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on September 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
Book Review: "Dancing Alone in Mexico--From the Border to Baja and Beyond", paperback, by Ron Butler (U. of Arizona Press)

Travel is something of a perpetual elixir for my wife, Sally, and me. The surprises we encounter are much more important than any specific trip, since as septuagenarians, we have pretty much seen it all. Last year a well known travel magazine wrote an article about "50 of the top places in the world you must see". It turned out we had been to 42.

Taking yet another unique trip in early January of this year, up and down the Copper Canyon (Barranca de Cobre) on a fancy train called the Sierra Madre Express proved no exception. One goes to Tucson, boards a bus for Nogales, crosses the Border into Mexico and takes this spectacular train trip up into a canyon deeper than our Grand Canyon on a train with liveried men ready to meet your every need for food and drink. The best part is that you only sleep on the train one night going and one night returning. The other nights are spent in quaint posadas, enjoying excellent food and real Mexican countryside ambiance, not the noxious fumes of Mexico City. But I digress.

We joined some 30 well traveled, mostly older folks, all calm and congenial, each with his or her own fascinating life experiences, . One fellow traveler proved particularly interesting. Ron Butler, a Tucson based veteran travel writer, has successfully sold stuff over a long career to Fodor, Ladies Home Journal, Travel and Leisure, etc. This avuncular, white haired sometime raconteur brought along his attractive thirtyish daughter, Alexandra, and a copy of his recent book, his life story, which those suffering from marital malaise will especially relish.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Soloff on September 5, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who spends at least a month every year in Mexico struggling to perfect my Spanish and understand Mexican culture, I'm always drawn to books written by people who seem to share the same passion. This book, however, seemed to be written by someone wallowing in self-pity (not a crime) while passing through Mexico jotting down a few notes and getting them published because of his connection to National Geographic (a crime). Do yourself a favor and travel through Mexico and write your own book. Of course you may not get it published. I gave it one star because minus one star wasn't an option on Amazon's rating list and any anyone who write's anything is doing something, which is better than doing nothing. Or maybe not.
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I thought the book was going to be a narrative of his travels with his children through Mexico. What I got was extremely brief blurbs about different areas, like you'ld read in a travel magazine. Which is where the articles came from,I believe. Just too brief to really get into.

The best part of the book was the last section where the articles were much longer and gave you some real insight into Mexican culture and it's effect on the author.A little dissappointing overall.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
Better late than never. Please add these editorial reviews to others re DANCING ALONE IN MEXICO. Thanks. RB
"[A] love song to a country, to a people, to a way of life that is at once alien and yet irresistibly alluring." -Chicago Tribune
"Dancing Alone in Mexico captures the flavor of the country, its true essence, in a series of personal memoirs that provide illuminating insights for anyone venturing south of the border, or for the armchair traveler seeking literary adventure." -The Mature Traveler
"Whether Butler is describing an afternoon of shopping in Nogales, his search for the perfect cup of Mexican coffee, or the allure of the night ferry to La Paz, he writes with a passion that is contagious. This is an excellent book, with an intimacy more often found in love letters than travel books." -Arizona Daily Star
"If you plan to travel to Mexico, Dancing Alone in Mexico by Ron Butler is must reading. If you would like to travel to Mexico but can't get there, Dancing Alone in Mexico is well worth the price to live vicariously through the eyes and ears of a many who loves, enjoys, understands and knows the country better than any norte Americano I know." -Montgomery Alabama Advertiser
"Indispensable for the true traveler." - Jim Harrison, author of The Road Home
"Fun to read, informative, and eye-moistening for those of us who have loved Mexico for longer than we care to tell. A big ­Olé!" - Barnaby Conrad, author of Matador
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