Monday, August 02, 2010

Paco Ignacio Taibo II's Return to the Same City

Ironically, despite the fact that Mexico City is the reference for Paco Ignacio Taibo II's Return to the Same City, there is less description of it than in many of his other novels, and more action takes place outside it.  The story revolves around a woman who hires Belascoarán Shayne to investigate her sister's murder (with the implication that he should kill the murderer).  Because of a recent attack on him, however, Shayne lives in a sometimes surreal state of paranoia that leaves him, among other things, suddenly finding himself on airplanes when he doesn't remember buying the ticket or boarding.

Then into this compact book we find crammed weapons sales to the Nicaraguan Contras, the guy who cut off Che Guevara's hands, a large band of mariachis, a CIA agent and some baby ducks.  He just manages to pull it back from the brink of unbelievability.  It is an entertaining story, and takes you all over Mexico.

Taibo makes a point at the beginning of the book to explain that the historical setting includes the rise of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas's presidential campaign, though subsequently there were only scattered reference to him. That is unfortunate, because he has such a keen sense of politics.


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