Saturday, December 1, 2012

"The Crystal Frontier" by Carlos Fuentes *****

  • Mexican author
  • Originally published 1995 in Spanish
  • Quotes:
    •  p.19 ..."...she was seeing only the naked desert, but her life could be like that enchanted city on the other side of the frontier:  golden towers, crystal palaces."
    • p.25..."Properties, customs offices, real estate deals, wealth and power provided by control over an illusory, crystal border, a porous frontier through which each year pass millions of people, ideas, products, in short, every (sotto voce:  contraband, drugs, counterfeit money, et cetera)"
    • p.33..."Now it's late fall, and the forest is denuded, the trees on the mountainsides look like burned toothpicks, and the sky comes two or three steps down to communicate to all of us the silence and pain of God in the face of the fleeting death of the world."...winter in Ithaca
    • p.40..."But prejudices could not be removed over night; they were very old, they had more reality--they did--than a political party or a bank account."
    • p.53..."You have to earn heaven by giving yourself over to it:  paradise, if it does exist, is in the very guts of the earth, its humid embrace awaiting us where flesh and clay mix, where the great maternal womb mixes with the mud of creation and life is born and reborn from its great reproductive depth, but never from its airy illusion, never from the airlines falsely connecting New York and Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific, in fact separating the lovers, breaking the marvelous unity of their perfect androgyny, their Siamese identity, their beautiful abnormality, their monstrous perfection, casting them to incompatible destinies, to opposite horizons."
    • p.60..."The depressing lesson of the movie 'Forrest Gump'.  To be always available for whatever chance may bring...".
    • p.65..."A good Mexican, Dionisio conceded all the power in the world to the gringos except that of an aristocratic culture...".
    • p.110..."What new mixture of oblivion and remembrance awaits them on the other side?"
    • p.188..."They spent several minutes looking at each other that way, in silence, separated by the crystal frontier." executive and a window washer in a high-rise.
    • p.239...".....but Mario knew very well that as long as a poor country lived next to the richest country in the world, what they, the Border Patrol, were doing was squeezing a balloon:  what you squeezed here only swelled out over there."
    • p.266..."...poor Mexico, poor United States, so far from God, so near to each other."....closing line
  • Notes:
    • references to Ithaca, Cornell University, "itaquitas", produced at the local pistol factory and used as the official sidearm of the army of El Salvador
    • Reference to "Being There" as story of a man who only knows what he learns from tv and goes on to become considered a genius
    • narrator refers to only two known Mexicans who speak decent is Carlos Fuentes....those two seem suspicious to the narrator......a little tongue in cheek humor
    • One character crossed the border, ended up in  mall, never found his way out
  • Review:   Just for starters, imagine a man who conjures a different woman to devour for each course of his meal, a racist border patrol officer, a man whose lover is his daughter-in-law, and a woman thwarted in her determination to prove her theory that Mexicans are lazy.  Now, add vivid and compelling prose.  Now add the discomfort of absorbing a lambasting of the ethics, hypocrisy, power, and destructiveness of your home nation.  This is a must read novel, published in 1995 and very relevant today. Guaranteed to make you squirm, to make you think, and to make you feel.  Absolutely a remarkable literary work!

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