From Publishers Weekly
In 2002, just out of U.C. Berkeley, Hernandez headed to Mexico City to trace his cultural roots. Five years later, he returned there as a journalist and immersed himself in the bewildering subcultures of the western hemisphere™s largest city. His explorations take him from fashion runways and cocaine after-parties, the street brawls of punk and emo kids, to the teeming festival of Mexico™s national icon, the Virgin of Guadalupe. As Hernandez wanders the labyrinths of the city, he also investigates his own uncertain identity as the American-born child of Mexican parents. Hernandez covers a lot of ground in his study of the city, maybe too much. Skimming from scene to scene, he doesn™t settle anywhere long enough to write with an insider™s perspective. Because of this, the observations rarely transcend the journalistic generalities found in the average feature story. Hernandez™s personal quest, which could have centered the book, never becomes compelling. While informative, his book often reads like a bulked up tour guide. (Feb.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
As a journalist in Mexico’s capital from 2007 to 2010, Hernandez collected experiences and impressions for this collection of essays largely about the city’s youth subcultures. Some pieces diverge into discussions of the general features of Mexico City, such as its smog and its plague of kidnapping, but Hernandez, not long out of college, chiefly immersed himself in the haunts and attitudes of 20-year-olds. He fell in with one group on pilgrimage to the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the first of several foci of veneration that Hernandez inspects (“Saint Death” and sweat lodges are two others). Exploring the street scenes of the massive metropolis, Hernandez in turn befriends music fanatics; “emos” (as in emotional ones); hard-partying, fashion-conscious scenesters; denizens of beer bars; and punks. In their microsociologies, Hernandez observes people’s styles of self-expression and muses about their self-identities as quasi-tribal responses, akin to survival modes amid the chaotic city’s ever-impinging potential for danger (one friend dies). A perceptive reporter, Hernandez renders a gritty portrait of contemporary Mexican youth. --Gilbert Taylor