Saxon's Reviews > The Old Gringo

The Old Gringo by Carlos Fuentes
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's review
Dec 18, 2011

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bookshelves: latin-south-america
Read from December 18 to 27, 2011

Been meaning to get back to Fuentes since reading his collection of short stories, The Crystal Frontier about five years ago. Found this in a box outside a brownstone and decided to give it a read. Fuentes is a very masculine writer and this only supports such claim. It's a little over-the-top, a little bit cowboy-western and a little bit myth, all which ends up being both its strengths and weaknesses.

Following the real-life mysterious disappearance of turn of the century journalist Ambrose Bierce's supposed disappearance in Mexico, The Old Gringo follows Bierce's march towards a desired death. The journey leads him to a small platoon of revolutionary fighters where fighting, drinking, ransacking and fucking go down. Even Pancho Villa make an appearance. While it seems adventurous, it's not really. Most of the narrative spends its time delving into the thoughts and psyche of each character. Here Fuentes is at his best, detailing not only the physical but the emotional injustices of life in pre-revolution Mexico and all the issues, problems and hang-ups between American and Mexican culture. Good stuff even if Fuentes gets a little caught up in his sometimes trite, poetic prose.

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