Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Usual Tijuana Tale

I've just finished a Mexican crime novel called The Uncomfortable Dead, authored in alternating chapters by two people, the great pro crime writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and the great Zapatista insurgency theorist-leader (and not-so-great crime novelist) Subcomandante Marcos. The contrast between the two sets of chapters is interesting for anyone who likes crime fiction or wants to write some themselves: the folksy voice of Marcos's detective is not too convincing, the politics, though generally admirable, are too obvious for the genre, and the detection structure is, well, not so good. To be fair to Marcos, he's trying to keep up with a master of the genre, which is impossible for someone with his kind of full-time job. There's some interesting stuff about the Zapatista judicial system, among other things, but my main point here, given the Tijuana story I'm linking to, is that together Marcos and Taibo write an entire crime novel set in Mexico without a single, hour-long shoot-out between SUV-driving narco-gangs armed with military weapons.

It's a good potboiler, and might even be true. But it would be nice to see the LA Times cover Tijuana - or East LA County for that matter - without the B-movie theatrics, which cover up what's really going on.

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