Monday, 27 September 2010

Modern Classic

Finished September 25
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea
I got this book through my Indiespensable subscription, and have been reading it slowly before sleep most evenings. I wanted to savour every bit of it.
Urrea is a real storyteller and this story flows so beautifully it is hard to put down (but I made myself!) I reread passages to see how he had used language to convey so much.
The story is a quest, an adventure, a coming-of-age. It has elements of magic realism and folk tales, and feels like a story that is timeless.
Nayeli is 19 and works at a taco shop in the small village of Tres Camarones in Sinaloa. She often thinks of her father who left to find work in the United States (Los Yunaites). He sent a postcard to her once from there, from Kankakee, Illinois. As she thinks, she realizes that most of the men from the village have left for the north. Unfortunately this has also been noted by a gang of drug dealers, who decide to take over the village.
Nayeli sees the movie The Magnificent Seven at the village theatre and decides that she will go north and find seven men to protect and revitalize her home. Joining her are her girlfriends Yolo and Vampi and her friend Tacho. As they make their way north they encounter many interesting characters, and some of these, like Atomiko, join their group. The U.S. is portrayed as a kind of dreamland, a place where the men went to and never came back from.
There is hope, humour, and a wonderful story here. The characters are great, each with their own defining personalities and idiosyncrasies. Nayeli finds more than she expects, and with the help of her friends and her aunt Irma, finds more than the seven men she went looking for.
Highly recommended.

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