La frontera de cristal/ The Crystal Frontier: A Novel in Nine Stories
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La frontera de cristal/ The Crystal Frontier: A Novel in Nine Stories

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  590 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Using an imaginary glass wall, Carlos Fuentes creates a lens through which he examines the violence, discrimination and racism suffered by Mexican immigrants crossing the border into the US in a quest for a better life. In these nine stories that deal with the separation between Mexico and the Unites States, Fuentes is able to find humor even amongst the tumbling ruins of...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2007 by Alfaguara (first published 1995)
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Jim
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
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
David
“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...more
Amy
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
Joshua Smith
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.
Ricardo
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.
LorCon
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
Bob
Dec 05, 2013 Bob rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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': "...de 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...more
Gladys
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
Tim Porter
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...more
Saxon
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...more
Aldo
Me gustó mucho. Nueve historias cortas, diferentes y conectadas entre sí. Me gusta mucho cómo escribe Carlos Fuentes, siempre pulcro y preciso en sus narraciones. Cada historia es memorable, así como sus personajes y situaciones muy variadas desde trágicas a chuscas, de amor y patriotismo. Un llamado para no olvidar un poco de nuestra historia y relaciones humanas entre México y el país vecino del norte.
Mustafa Şahin
Amerika'ya Meksikalı gözüyle bakan ve Amerika'yı fırsatlar ülkesi olarak değil de karanlık taraflarıyla anlatan güzel bir Fuentes eseri; birbiriyle yer yer bağlantılı olan dokuz farklı öyküden oluşuyor ve Meksika halkının sıkıntılarını etkili bir dille anlatıyor.
Andy Oram
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...more
Jenny
Pocos libros y autores presentan de una manera tan acertada esos pequeños detalles sutiles y casi imperceptibles de las diferencias, las cotidianeidades y las curiosidades de la relación México-Estados Unidos. Y lo hace de una manera personal, con personajes alcanzables. Un fino tejido de literatura y relaciones internacionales de Fuentes.
Jen
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...more
Ferris
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
Ellen
Linked stories of the border, where the reality is strange and often terrible.
Kristine
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
Guillermo Jiménez
Es muy probable que sea el primer libro que haya leído de Fuentes y la verdad me gustó demasiado. No creo que pueda hablar críticamente de esta novela en relatos, sino, más bien desde la nostalgia de alguien que recuerda las lecturas que lo fueron formando.

Ese mundo de inmigrantes que tengo en mente se lo debo, para bien o para mal, en gran medida a este libro.
Jonfaith
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.
Chris
The low ratings others posted are confounding. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the current relationship between Mexico and the United States. The book interweaves stories from different people on both sides of the border, elegantly showing the differences and similarities between us. Highly recommended.
Rosa
I know that this is a well written book. It's won lots of awards. The author is thought to be one of Mexico's greatest writers, but quite frankly I found it a hard slug! I just couldn't get into it. It was a very difficult read. I kept having to reread whole pages of the darn thing.
Laur K.
Never would've picked this up if it hadn't been assigned, but jeez, I'm glad I did. As with most short story anthologies, it's a bit uneven but what is good is REALLY good. "Pain," "The Line of Oblivion," and "Malintzin of the Maquilas" were definitely my faves.
Marcela
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christa
Good stuff. I like Fuentes' take on the "border" between the U.S. and Mexico and how it doesn't really exist in culture. Politics make it so, and it makes the lives of those striving on either side for self-actualization that much more difficult.
Marie
This is the beauty of a book club...you read books you wouldn't choose yourself. Carlos Fuentes is a brilliant author but I just couldn't appreciate these short stories. All of them are related to life on the Mexico/Texas border.
Mary
I liked the way in which Fuentes moves the reader from one side of the frontier to the other and the way he puts the reader to think and really put on perspective the everyday situation at the Mexico-US border. A very good book.
Steph
Enjoyed it a lot...though some of the themes didn't always resonate with some of the border reality that I know. It's made me think about how much narco money probably runs through this town...
Megan
This collection of short stories surprised me. I found myself empathizing with people unlike myself. The stories focus on Mexican people, their daily lives and concerns, with the US and without.
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The Crystal Frontier 1 10 Sep 14, 2008 09:36PM  
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1367127
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
More about Carlos Fuentes...
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