Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories by Carlos Velazquez

The much-anticipated English-language debut of "one of the most original and entertaining voices of contemporary Mexican literature"(Revista Gatopardo): a collection of surreal, ironic, and madcap stories about the comedy and brutal tragedies of life in Mexico.
Extract from the Goodreads description

This short story collection is unlike anything I have ever read. The language and style are extraordinary. Comparisons have been made between Velazquez's work and that of Hunter S. Thompson, Charles Bukowski, and William S. Burroughs. The tone is always ironic, frequently surreal and often spectacularly inventive. The use of contemporary Mexican popular culture, including Spanglish words, song lyrics and much more, made this a difficult book for me to understand and read. I am sure I missed a lot of references and even some plot points.

The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories is set in a mythical part of north Mexio called PopSTock! - a sort of Macondo on acid. The stories are linked by the magical Cowboy Bible, which changes shape between the stories - in one it is the talisman of a Mexican wrestling DJ and art critic, in another an unbeatable participant in drinking marathons, the leather for boots so desirable that a character sells to the devil a night with his wife, a television show on which cds are pirated by a female urban rebel, an overweight single mother, and a musical instrument. After a while you realize that the stories sometimes overlap. 

Despite the stories' obvious surrealism and fantasy they have a habit of hitting you in the face with realism. PopSTock! is a violent world in which drug dealers hold sway over people's lives and macho sexism is everywhere. It is clear that these stories are also a social and political commentary on Velazquez's homeland.

I received this book free from the publisher in return for a fair review.

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