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True Tales from Another Mexico

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0826322968
ISBN-10: 0826322964
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

What Hernando de Soto did for the economy and politics of Lima, Peru in The Other Path (1989. o.p.), journalist Quinones (the Los Angeles Times) does here for Mexico. While de Soto followed a very systematic path, illustrated with charts, to show the tenacity and enterprising spirit of lime$os, Quinones, an accomplished storyteller, uses a narrative style to grand effect. Sometimes, the narrative takes unbelievable turns, yet the author has met each of his subjects, and, while his text is by necessity anecdotal, his is a refreshing treatment of a country in which everything has been penetrated by the ruling party. He recounts stories of men who dress as women, of the narcotraficantes, and of the chamber of deputies' section called The Bronx, where misbehaving is both common and a specialty. This is an excellent view of the informal economy and various means that are used to get around Mexico's reliclike system of social, economic, and political organization. Highly recommended for academic libraries and for special collections. Rene Perez-Lopez, Jordan-Newby Branch Lib., Norfolk, VA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"The most original writer on Mexico and the border out there." --San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

The most original writer on Mexico and the border out there. --San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of New Mexico Press (August 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826322964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826322968
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #953,055 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

This book will blow your mind. Quinones is able to totally take you into worlds rarely heard about before. Who knew there was a thriving basketball hotbed in Oaxaca that has been transported to LA? The whole genre of narcocorridos (basically, traditional Mexican "country" [ranchero] music with a gangsta slant) started in LA, too.

The topics of lynchings in rural Mexico, the popularity of telenovelas at home and in Eastern Europe(?) and the religious cult at Neuva Jerusalen are all so fascinating and far beyond anything anyone has probably imagined Mexico to be.

He has an inate ability to dig up and find the most fascinating stories in the most out-of-the-way places yet also show how they often are a microcosmic reflection of how Mexican society operates in general.

The question is: When is Sam Quinones going to compile a Tales 2?
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Another reviewer pointed out that Quinones' accounts are "researched", and this is true; he's done what he needed to do to find his facts. But I would add that the overwhelming note, for me, is that the man has "been there". I heard about "True Tales" from a reviewer of Elijah Wald's "Narcocorrido", and would now agree with that reviewer that the Quinones piece on Chalino Sanchez tells us a lot more about his world than Wald's book, valuable but a bit touristy, a bit arch, and a bit academic. There is an immediacy in these chapters by Quinones, of grittiness, suffering, delusion, terror, helplessness, of all the qualities of the many Mexicans Quinones met and listened to. His description of the lynching is the most direct, realistic and frightening I've ever read; this can happen anywhere, anytime. These stories are unadorned realities of Mexico and the Border, and the entire world as well.
As Edward Abbey said, of the same country, "this is the real world, muchachos, and you are in it."
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As I read Sam's well-researched and observed tales, I was of the way John Reed was able to navigate Mexico's arid, dangerous terrain.
A perfect book for anyone wanting to understand some of the key roots of Mexico's present quandary.
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This book focuses on contemporary cultural trends in Mexico and also looks at how these trends are shaping U.S. society. Among the topics covered are contemporary popular music, the complexities of gender roles, and the economic hardships faced by many Mexicans. Quinones provides an honest, unflinching look at the seedy side of society, but also shows the heroic side of people facing near impossible odds in their efforts to escape poverty. The book is readable and is at times quite funny (reality is sometimes absurd, especially in Mexico).
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It's 13 years since I first read this book and I am still recommending it today for people who are sincerely interested in knowing the back stories of Mexico. These "true tales" sound like tall tales but I kept spotting traces of these underground truths during the ten years I lived in Mexico myself. I was glad to have read Sam Quinones' books to have some sense of the real Mexico, at least other parts that I was unlikely to have ever found for myself. Disneyland has a back lot. If you only want the tourist view, great, spend your money and enjoy! If you want to try to understand a different culture, all of it, here are more parts. A companion book for giving these kinds of insights is Geo-Mexico by Richard Rohr and Tony Burton, which shows geography is truly destiny and explains how Mexico came to have such different areas and cultures. Some of Quinones's reporting is just fun, such as learning the history of how all those Michoacan paleta stands came to be (selling those fruit bars that look like popsicles). Some is deadly serious, such as the unreported lynchings in the small communities--a logical response to a legal system where few crimes are reported, few of those reported are seriously investigated, and few of those arrested or even convicted spend any serious amount of time in prison. Honor killings are part of many countries' legal systems throughout the world.
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