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The Crystal Frontier

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  844 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
The nine stories comprising this brilliant new work of fiction from Carlos Fuentes all concern people who in one way or another have had something to do with, or still are part of, the family of one Leonardo Barroso, a powerful oligarch of northern Mexico with manifold connections to the United States. Each story concerns an encounter -- sometimes hilarious, often tragic, ...more
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1995)
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Sep 21, 2015 Deea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories

This book is an exploration of the relations between the two neighbor countries, The United States of America and Mexico, from Carlos Fuentes’ perspective, that is to say a Mexican perspective. Of course he is subjective and taking sides with his fellow Mexicans, but that was to be expected.

The Crystal Frontier is about things that both unite and separate these two countries ideologically, gastronomically, behaviorally, historically and so on. Under the hat name of a novel, Fuentes actual
Jun 27, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
It was the late dictator Porfirio Diaz who once enunciated the great theme of 20th Century Mexican literature: "Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!" To an extent That few Norteamericanos realize, the interpenetration of Mexico and the United States in a strange kind of yin-yang embrace is also becoming a major fact of life on both sides of the border. Living as I do in Los Angeles, a city that is soon to become one of the major Hispanic cities of the world, I see it h ...more
Friederike Knabe
Aug 10, 2012 Friederike Knabe rated it liked it
The subtitle to THE CRYSTAL FRONTIER defines the book as a "Novel in Nine Stories". Is it a novel at all? Not really, I find. The connections between the stories themselves are tenuous or indirect at best. However, seen as a whole, they present a critical perspective on Mexican society and its complex relations to its northern neighbour. The "crystal frontier" is both real and in the minds of the protagonists. Indeed, it may be useful for the reader to take Fuentes' book as a collection of short ...more
Jim Fonseca
Jul 15, 2015 Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mexican-authors
The master Mexican story teller has assembled stories of interconnected lives on the on the Tex-Mex border. The stories are loosely interconnected in that a few characters appear in more than one story and most have some connection to a Mexican “Master of the Universe” -- a multimillionaire mover and shaker who can make and break lives. We learn a lot about the politics, economics and sociology of the US-Mexican interrelationship, to the point where at times the lesson seems a bit heavy-handed a ...more
Joshua Smith
Jan 11, 2008 Joshua Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
They don't call Fuentes a genius for nothin'. This is one of my favorite books ever. If I could give it ten stars I would! It's written as multiple short stories with a central thread of which each story exploits a different aspect. Highly recommend.
Nora Cayetano
Sep 11, 2014 Nora Cayetano rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nora by: La maestra que menos me cae
Este es el único libro de Carlos Fuentes que volvería a leer, porque si tiene UNA frase que me gustó mucho... Lo que sí es que es la frase más cruel y racista que he leído, así que no creo que sea bueno decir que me gusta, hahahaha. (Como frase de antagonista estuvo preciosa).
Matthias Vannieuwenhuyze
Was expected to read 2 stories for class. Read them all. Magnificent prose.
Matt Trowbridge
Mar 20, 2015 Matt Trowbridge rated it liked it
This was more assigned reading. I find it difficult to objectively analyze a book when I'm reading to answer specific prompts. I'm afraid that when I'm reading and analyzing only what serves the purpose of completing my assignment that I'm missing out on the larger relevance/quality of the story. I guess an easy solution would be to read it the same way I'd read any other book, but I'm not sure I could make that work. I tried to find a balance with The Crystal Frontier. The book consisted of nin ...more
Dec 07, 2007 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: latin-america
I was ordered to read this because of the fact that I am a native of Southern California. My life, and especially my childhood has been influenced by growing up so close to the San Ysidro border crossing. I lived in predominantly hispanic neighborhoods at times, ate so much Mexican food (including homemade tamales at friends' houses), hearing mariachi music blaring over cheap boomboxes, and feeling slightly intimidated by the cholas with their hoop earrings and crispy bangs during middle and hig ...more
Oct 14, 2012 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Crystal Frontier” collection of stories by Mexico leading novelist Carlos Fuentes tells different stories about different themes. He has a unique style of writing that i’ve never read before. You have different themes so it was hard to figure why he wrote a novel with nine stories. I personally didn’t like the the whole idea of including nine stories because it didn’t make any sense to me since i’m just beginning to read books and might of been hard for me to read.

The plot is kind of hard t
Sep 18, 2011 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was completed at Table 8; a section of the local public house where I spent the better part of a decade, rambling, reading and quaffing espresso and Guinness.

I liked this gestalt of a story collection, its novelistic pulse crossing its own borders and checkpoints with a pessimism that can't be waived by visa requirements.
Jun 03, 2008 Ricardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una novela en nueve cuentos sobre la vida cerca de la frontera México-Estadounidense; da una buena idea de la simbiótica y a veces trágica relación entre México y los EEUU.
Daniel Huerta
Oct 27, 2014 Daniel Huerta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a sad trip, and to think that all this stories are true, and that new stories like this arise everyday.
Mercy Medina
Después de volverlo a leer, me di cuenta que no se acerca ni un poco a las experiencias reales de las personas fronterizas.
Antonio Rubio Reyes
En este libro Carlos Fuentes nos enseña una lección magistral sobre la literatura post-boom: cuando te quedes sin ideas, solo retoma los experimentos cuestionables de tu primera novela, habla otra vez sobre la figura del cacique pero en otro espacio-tiempo, repite, repite las ideas, la estructura, el lenguaje y mezcla algunas tesis sociales con palabras como "coger", "nalgas", "chingada" y "Coca-Cola".

¿Qué demonios tenía Fuentes en contra de las mujeres obesas?
J. R.
Mar 27, 2016 J. R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Why are they all so dark, so obviously lower class?”
“It’s the majority, Don Leonardo. The only thing the country can produce.”
Thus we arrive at the jarring center of "The Crystal Frontier,” the title story of Carlos Fuentes’s 1995 meditation on the physical, ideological, and political borderlands—“what belongs here and also there”—between Mexico and the United States.
The book’s subtitle, A Novel in Nine Stories, has prompted dismissal by some critics who deem its chapters — each the tale of a d
Max Dreyfus
Nov 07, 2015 Max Dreyfus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Debo confesar que esta reseña puede estar sobrevalorando al libro. Fuentes es mi autor predilecto. Leí este libro hace unos 10 años, y quise recetarme otra vez el placer de leerlo. Consta de una serie de cuentos sobre las relaciones de  los personajes en la Frontera México - EE.UU.
Sus personajes son complejos, con traumas y problemas verosímiles y cotidianos.
1. La capitalina. Michelina la hija de una familia aristócrata venida a menos viaja a la frontera a
visitar a su padrino (Leonardo Barroso).
Oscar Calva
Mar 31, 2013 Oscar Calva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Carlos Fuentes es mi escritor mexicano preferido, no considero sin embargo, que sea el mejor escritor mexicano. Siempre me pareció mejor novelista y narrador que escritor, y lo que siempre me ha gustado de sus novelas es su ritmo ágil y su estilo crítico muy propio, mordaz e incisivo, un poco cínico incluso, nada discursivo, con un humor refinado muy sutil, nada obvio o exhibicionista.

El título de esta novela es "La Frontera de Cristal: una Novela en Nueve Cuentos", y aunque parecieran nueve cue
Tim Porter
Nov 11, 2012 Tim Porter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being the most difficult book I've read to date in Spanish -- not only because of the vocabulary, but because of all the "mexicanismos" Fuentes uses, this is one of the most captivating and authentic books I've read about the symbiotic, and unbalanced, relationship between the United States and Mexico.

A novel told in nine chapters, each an independent story, Fuentes traverses the entire cultural geography the two countries share, from the uber-rich of the Mexican upper class to working s
I really, really liked this book. To my understanding it was translated from Spanish to English? Any who, it was written in ways you can only describe as amazing. It almost reminded me of Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) or Dogeaters. Each chapter was a different story, a different life as lived here in the "Borderlands". All stories intertwined or life intermingled by one character. There was some chapters that really stood out for me, left me in a slight daze of awe. But the way the chapters rea ...more
I'm certain that Paul Haggis read this book before making his movie Crash. The book is 9 stories with interlocking characters culture- clashing to a crashing culmination. The Crystal Frontier being the U.S. Mexican border, all of the characters are simultaneously cartoon character exaggerated stereotypes and just like someone you actually know. The glassy surface message seems to be that everyone is a racist, put forth in a less than subtle manner. Preachy. Tell us something we don't know. Never ...more
Aug 18, 2013 Bob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Heather Pehnec
Shelves: migrants
More a collection of stories than a novel, the book achieves in fiction what The Late, Great Mexican Border does with non-fiction. Fuentes account is more thoughtful, and his style ranges from outrageously comic to bitterly shameful.
A Mexican food critic visits 'The American Grill': " la botella de salsa de chile no salio la salsa misma, sino un pequeno hombrecito, diminuto pero distinguible por su traje de charro, su sombrero de mariachi y sus bigotes zapatistas: --Paron -- dijo descubri
Feb 06, 2016 Daniel rated it liked it
(3.5 stars)
I'm sorta conflicted about this book. Some stories were better than others. Being Mexican American, I found this book interesting. What bothered me the most about this book was the ending of some of the stories. They were in my opinion, weak compared to the momentum the plot had. To my liking, some stories were boring and others we're nail bitting thrilling. But on the other stories, I had to force myself to finish the chapter to move onto the next story. They weren't horrible, just n
Nov 21, 2007 Saxon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
This very well may be a five star book. However, I feel like even though I enjoyed this book immensely, Fuentes might have even better out there. I pretty much read this entire book in one today.

The Crystal Frontier is a series of vignettes revolving around the U.S./Mexico border that in the end has touched on almost every imaginable issue of contention associated-immigration, race, free trade, colonization and of course; class.
Even if this issue isn't of particular interest to the reader, Fuen
Sergio Lozano
"Una Novela de Nueve Historias."
¿A quien se le ocurrió tan semejante subtitulo?
Un libro que habla con la verdad, con los problemas de hoy en día que no se han podido resolver. Pero sabemos que es difícil llegar a la solución.
¿Qué más digo? La lectura fue muy generalizada. Sí, me quede picado en varias historias y quería saber como terminaban. Y el autor, dejaba impregnado el aroma latinoamericano en sus historias. Se olía... no, mas bien, se percibía el sentimiento en cada historia. Extrañamente
Andy Oram
Aug 02, 2011 Andy Oram rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Powerful at some level, not in any traditional narrative sense, but in
the sweep of Fuentes's compassion and his sadness about the fates of
Mexicans and Americans. The so-called novel is more like a collection
of short stories with ties between characters that bring them together
at the end, but not particularly conclusively. Some characters are
more developed than others, but the book should not be read for the
characters or for the plot. The writing is beautiful (a tribute to the
translator as well a
Jun 09, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the circularity of this collection of stories. You feel as though the characters are all connected to each other in some way or another. Fuentes deftly mixes slice-of-life tales with philosophical and historical reflections that carry with them heavy political undertones. Whether or not you live on the border or know someone who does, you will be affected by the stories of Marina and Juan Zamora, and others who
tread the line between first and third worlds, sacrificing one's culture for t
Nov 19, 2012 Ferris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. Guarant ...more
Oct 04, 2013 Kristine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-pantheon
Majestic. This was my first exposure to Carlos Fuentes, although I heard him speak once at the University of Colorado - ever so handsome and erudite! I did wonder throughout why he called this "a novel in nine short stories" - apart from recycling some of the characters and weaving loose connections between them, this did not have the story arc of a novel. What did he gain with that, and what did he risk from people who didn't buy that description? The poignant agony of US/Mexico relations were ...more
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Todos los relatos tienen en común la presencia de Leonardo Barroso, un poderoso tan cristalino como su apellido lo indica. Frontera de Cristal, invisible, delicada, la que a veces se quiebra, miles de hombres que buscan un destino distinto al que tienen en su México. Buscan el "bienestar" algunos encuentran la muerte con sus espaldas mojadas por cruzar ese rio grande y bravo.
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The Crystal Frontier 1 14 Sep 14, 2008 09:36PM  
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Carlos Fuentes Macías was a Mexican writer and one of the best-known novelists and essayists of the 20th century in the Spanish-speaking world. Fuentes influenced contemporary Latin American literature, and his works have been widely translated into English and other languages.

Fuentes was born in Panama City, Panama; his parents were Mexican. Due to his father being a diplomat, during his childhoo
More about Carlos Fuentes...

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