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Atomik Aztex

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In the alternate universe of this glitteringly surreal first novel, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders. Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, is visited by visions of a parallel world run by the Europeans, where consumerism reigns supreme. Aztecs armed with automatic weapons, totemic powers and blood sacrifice conquer and colonize 1940s Europe, a ...more
Paperback, 203 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by City Lights Publishers (first published January 1st 2002)
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3.36  · 
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 ·  238 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Eight years after finishing this book for the first time I still get excited whenever I discuss it, pressing my copy upon friends and relatives with the wide-eyed ‘please read this’ entreaties of a newly saved evangelical.

Atomik Aztex is a wildly enjoyable read, a super-stylised detonation of slick phrases, memorable scenes and some genuinely funny moments. This is a book that makes you want to read sections aloud to your friends just to hear the rhythms and punches of Foster’s sentences (you m
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it

Audacious, bodacious, hyperenergetic, imaginative, imagistically generous, interacting alt-realities, porous borders between eras. Reminded me of Philip K. Dick (The Man in the High Castle), ultraviolent voice-driven Vollmanny pyrotechnics, Ishmael Reed (Flight to Canada, Mumbo Jumbo), with mucho "Junot Diaz" spanglish, vato. (Unlike Joyce at all, per some reviews on here.) Slaughterhouses and sacrifices. The most enjoyable novel I've read in a while. A total mindfugg.

Read the complete impressi
Jan 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: folks who appreciate experimental fiction, find the premise compelling, and don't mind violence.
Shelves: fiction, owned-books
A stunning little book. Its brutal violence and hypermasculinity wore on me, and it's nonlinearity might annoy a more conventional reader. But it has a tremendous amount to offer on the relationship between masculinity, empire, and domination. It follows one protagonist in two very different realities: in one, he is a communist labor organize at Farmer John's meat processing plant in Los Angeles in the 1940s; in the other, he is a commanding officer in the Aztec army battling Nazi Germany. In th ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I knew Sesshu Foster and I were going to have problems as soon as I read the "note" before the beginning of the book, which I will reproduce in full, because I think it gives a good sense of what Atomik Aztex is and is not about:

"This is a work of fiction." Did he feel the need to say this because the cover only says Atomik Aztex and not Atomik Aztex: A Novel? Was there any way anybody could have mistaken a book with this title for a work of non-fiction?

"Readers looking for accurate information
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels-bleh
I choose to read this because the premise sounded so interesting. Alternate history in which the Azteks survived and thrived contrasted with a multiple reality structure in which the protagonist is confronted by a reality in which the Azteks did not and he works at a meat packing plant. However, I didn't get the impression in reading the book that the protagonist in the 2 contrasting realities was the same person or was aware of his counterpart like I had anticipated. I almost got the feeling th ...more
Oct 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Sadly, no one.
Recommended to Seth by: Employee recommendation at Staceys Books, San Francisco
Sadly, this book is probably really fun. The conceit--an alternate world where Aztec ("Aztek" in the book) magic not only repulsed the Spaniards but led to Aztec world domination--coupled with a world-spanning plot bringing our protag back and forth to our world (where he works at a meat-packing plant killing cattle all day) sounds like great fun.

Unfortunately, someone convinced the author that telling the Aztek part of the story--which is the bulk of the story, at least as far as I got--in four
Robert Wells
Nov 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Not really knowing what to say about this book, I will defer a bit to what others have said, so, please pardon me for a moment. Many, or at least the three or four reviews I have read, have said this is a story of an alternate universe where the protagonist, Zenzontli, is at once in a world where the Aztecs have reigned supreme over the Spanish and have begun the colonialization of Europe. (I should mention here that I saw little if any evidence of this. Yes, in his “alternate” reality Zenzontli ...more
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Moves between a few alternate universes, the main one being a world where the Aztecs booted out European invaders and are now busy in the mid-20th century kicking some Nazi ass over on the continent. Lots of ramblings from a crazy Aztec warrior, like

"probably in your World of the future they have discovered amazing stuff like DNA fingerprints, penicillin pencils, free jazz & fusion, 8-track tapes, San Fernando porno-Valley, I can't even imagine all the kool stuff they could discover in the
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Joe Milazzo
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 stars I would. Thoroughly, even exhaustively profane, meaning it is about as sacred a text as texts go.
Jul 11, 2011 added it
After 5 different attempts to read this book--spurred by very enthusiastic recommendations from a couple of friends whose judgment I respect-- I have to admit defeat. This is a book I cannot read
Sean Guynes
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, taught
A mindfuck of a novel, an alternate history, postmodernist experiment in thinking about what would happen if the Aztec had defeated Cortes and become a global power in modernity. As a Japanese-American writer who grew up in LA, some Latinx scholars have embraced him as a writer of Latinxfuturism, others have heavily criticized him.
Brian Trinh
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
That was one helluva ride. Crazy mind altering parallel universal possibilities of a book.
Ben Brackett
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Started off good, but kind of loses steam mid-way through and just meanders
Nov 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok

People who write reviews of this book fall into one of two categories.

This is the most amazing book ever and this writer is BRILLIANT!!!
What The F$#@ did I just read?????


I'm firmly in the second category.  I've never wanted Cliffs Notes for a book before this one.  The note at the beginning of the book includes:

"Persons attempting to find a plot in this book should read Huck Finn."
Basically, when the Spanish crossed the ocean ready to take over Mexico, the Aztecs were ready.  They killed

I just started reading Sesshu Foster's really fucking strange book; I should qualify that the fact that I think it is really strange does not mean that I dislike it. As I am reading I envision Foster really enjoying being indulgent here with the idiosyncratic language of this idiosyncratic character who's become, I think, quite unhinged. In the two realities he occupies in Foster's "omniverse," it's hard to know where to ground myself. Even in the world of 1942 East L.A., which should be relativ ...more
Freedom Road El Camino Para la Libertad
this novel is SO GOOD. Here's the description from the publisher's website:

"In the alternate universe of Atomik Aztex, the Aztecs rule, having conquered the European invaders long ago. Aztek warriors with totemic powers are busy colonizing Europe, and human sacrifice is basic to economic growth.

Zenzontli, Keeper of the House of Darkness, is plagued by nightmares of a parallel reality where American consumerism reigns supreme. Ghosts of banished Aztek warriors emerge to haunt contemporary Los Ang
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
Angeleno poet Sesshu Foster notes this truth before even beginning: "Persons attempting to find a plot in this book should read Huck Finn." I enjoyed this whimsical, profane, and schizophrenic journey via a novel-length prose poem, repetitive at times and squeezing out ever last drop of value out of cliches, adages, and mixed metaphors that the protagonist(s) simultaneously criticize. Many attempting to read this book will likely be turned off early on by the style, language, (lack of) structure ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i left my copy somewhere. made me hungry for octopus ceviche. did not quite finish before mistakingly forgetting to take it with me after bailing on crazy-making sublet house from hell. (also forgot amazing weird earrings, cardboard box full of hair/nail clippings, and hush puppies). reminds me strongly of that story in mcsweeneys 16 about girl with mangled legs, though it has completely different subject matter. i feel like the writing is quite exactly the same caliber. if that gives anyone a s ...more
Jacque wong
Feb 16, 2008 rated it liked it
ok, the beginning of this book is so amazing that it really will blow your mind. I mean if the Azteks did rule the world, chances are that it really would be like living in a slaughter house every day. And What If you were also working in an abbatoir as well. wouldn't the gore just be totally overwhelming? and how much gore can one human take before the world becomes a totally frickin' psychedelic gore-fest? Gory. Not for PETA lovers.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
dark satire of imperialism and colonization set in alternate universe(s?) where Aztecs overcome initial European invasion. critiques war, myth of exceptionalism, slavery, global economy, and empire. is sometimes nonsensical for the sake of being nonsensical. a supposedly fun book I'll never read again.

themes, devices: nonlinear time, parallelism, literary allusion (strangely, to HUCK FINN), satire, colonialism, exceptionalism, war, corruption, modernity, labor disputes, wealth, slavery.
This book is an achievement. It's not anything I could even approach. And I think we now know that the author likes long lists.

The author is a poet, and there is definitely that influence in it. The sentence construction is complex, rich, and streaming. The prose is lyric and dense. It reads almost like a long epic poem. the story itself is okay, and it was a little hard to get through, for me. But there is a lot to appreciate in here.
Rick Harsch
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Atomik Azteks, Foster rights an historical wrong, making the Azteks victors who rampage and romp through the 20th century, fighting in Stalingrad--oddly, the best fiction I have ever read about that battle--and emerging in a sausage plant in contemporary L.A. The book is savage and hilarious, and I rank it the best novel I have read in this new century by a writer from the U.S.
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
I did not like this. But I don't know why. I laughed a lot at the beginning, and the language was very good throughout. The idea of Azteks ruling the world is a good premise for a book, but I found the dreams/hallucinations/memoirs of the narrator distracting. It would have had more force if they weren't dreams/hallucinations and Azteks really had taken over the world.
Dec 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
One of many cases where assigning stars seems futile to me. Imagination in overdrive, brutal and over-the-top, surrealistic, occasionally too self-indulgent even for a narrative in which excess is key--it's hard to be indifferent about this book.
Oct 25, 2008 rated it liked it
I was looking for a plot so I guess I should be shot. A compelling experiment saturated in the hallucinatory poetics of a "what-if" world: Aztecs conquer the conquerors, drive Apache pickups. I didn't make it out of the meat-packing plant but will probably give it another go down the line.
Xicanopoet Gonzalez
Jun 03, 2010 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. it was rambling on and on with no real direction. Also, the author doesn't even use paragraphs so it was very hard to read and hard to understand. Great premise bad execution
Jun 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure if we can use profanity on these reviews. Which is too bad. Because the only way to describe this book involves the words 'mind' and another which means sexual penetration.
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Sesshu Foster is an American poet. He has taught composition and literature in East LA since 1985, and has also taught at the University of Iowa, the California Institute of the Arts, the University of California, Santa Cruz and the Jack Kerouac School's Summer Writing Program. He was in residence at California State University, Los Angeles.

2010 American Book Award for World Ball Notebook
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