Ben's Reviews > The Milagro Beanfield War

The Milagro Beanfield War by John     Nichols
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's review
Aug 15, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended to Ben by: God and Circumstance
Read in August, 2008

"You can't buy bullets with food stamps," says Nick Rael, the store owner of the one store in Milagro, New Mexico, when Amarante Cordova peals off four one-dollar stamps and carefully lays them on the counter. This absurd scene in The Milagro Beanfield War, the first novel in John Nichols' epic New Mexico Triology, serves well enough to illustrate the power of Nichols' voice and the authority of his narrative, but Amarante takes his bullets and shuffles off to stand guard over Joe Mondragon's controversial beanfield with a prehistoric revolver and a bottle of cheap brandy, envisioning an angel who in Nichol's words "Is no shining angel with a golden halo straight from Tiffany's... rather, a half-toothless, one-eyed bum sort of coyote dressed in tattered blue jeans and sandals, and sporting a pair of drab moth-eaten wings..." It is in scenes like this when Nichols exposes the magic underpinnings of Milagro that The Beanfield War is elevated from minor skirmish to massive global conflict... something in line with a Paradise Lost where the devil is a sawed-off unflamboyant man who systematically gathers up the souls of little ranchers and uses them to light his cigars and God is taking a really long siesta while Jesus is getting drunk with his wife and illegally irrigating a field of beans. I would list this as required reading for anyone who enjoys Steinbeck, Marquez, Cervantes, Castaneda, or Marijuana.
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