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Down and Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  485 ratings  ·  58 reviews
MEXICO CITY, with some 20 million inhabitants, is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. Enormous growth, raging crime, and tumultuous politics have also made it one of the most feared and misunderstood. Yet in the past decade, the city has become a hot spot for international business, fashion, and art, and a magnet for thrill-seeking expats from around the world.

Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Scribner (first published February 3rd 2011)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Mar 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aztec-metropolis
To take Hernandez’s book as simply a non-fiction travel book or as the cool kids are calling it these days, creative non-fiction travel book, would be a mistake. Hernandez’s book is fascinating precisely because he is NOT: 1) trying to find himself by teaching English in another country 2) throwing himself into hard labor in a remote indigenous village 3) has no philanthropic endeavors 4) and NO broken heart he needs to mend through ancient indigenous practices. Hernandez is on a mission to find ...more
Victor Giron
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
My mother is Mexican, from a small town in the western mountains of Mexico, in a state called Michoacan, west of Mexico City on the way to the Pacific Ocean. I was born in Chicago. Because my mother's family is so large and she's had such a strong bond with them all, I've been to Mexico practically every year of my life. As a child there were some summers where my sister and I would stay with one of my aunts and cousins the whole time, living just like Mexican kids though everyone around was dis ...more
David Sasaki
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
A nini ethnography

In 2009 the word still did not exist in Mexico. Yet by August 2010, it was nearly impossible to watch the nightly news without suffering through yet another segment, interview, or monologue about the country's nini Phenomenon. Nini, ni estudian ni trabajan, they neither study nor work. The first mention of the term I am able to find in the Mexican press comes from the February 2010 edition of Proceso magazine. In his article, The Mexican Ninis , José Gil Olmos says he first
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a perceptive take on Mexico City and some of its underreported features, at least as it existed about ten years ago. Any book on Mexico City, where I once lived, is bound to be somewhat dated; like all megalopolises, it is in a constant process of reinvention. Daniel Hernandez' interest here is less on the details of ancient cultures and more on the people who make up new subcultures: gays, emos, punks. His Condesa neighborhood is not trendy hotspots; the bar he visits is not elegant but ...more
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Standard feature writing.

This book definitely could have some deeper insight especially given the complexity of the subject, but Hernandez never veers from choice to keep a psychological distance from his subjects and because of this, his conclusions tend to be sentimental and historically superficial.
Leah Rachel von Essen
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Down & Delirious in Mexico City: The Aztec Metropolis in the Twenty-First Century is a fascinating book by Daniel Hernandez that examines the subcultures of the city as well as its feel, something ever-difficult to capture without being in a place.

Through his distinctly male gaze, Hernandez explores the city, entering the fashion party scenes and making new friends in the punk scenes, among others; talking about the strangeness in CMX around the time of some well-publicized outcry against kidnap
Paul Pessolano
Jan 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
I don't know if this book was meant to be a travelogue, a personal history, or an expose of Mexico and Mexico City.

I can tell you if you want to read a book that will have you change your travel plans to anywhere other than Mexico City - read this book.

Daniel Hernandez, looking for his roots, goes to Mexico City. Mexico City is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, and it has all the problems, and more, that is associated with megacities. Hernandez makes cities like Los Angeles, New York,
James H.
Daniel Hernandez has written an amazing book that captures the impact of social change and NAFTA on young people in Mexico City. I knew that the book was going to be something special when I read a short clip on the inside cover from the amazing Alma Guillermoprieto — "The guy can really write", and her assessment of this young writer is spot-on correct.

Hernandez grew up in California and identified with Chicano culture, but went to Mexico City to experience the real meaning of "Mexicanismo". Hi
Shannon O'Mara
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an engaging read from start to finish. The author writes with an informed voice on very contemporary happenings in Mexico City- from fashion to politics to crime to religion- relating these things to history, his own American/Mexican background, and even broadens implications to worldwide avant garde culture. The focus of each chapter was never dry, and the backdrop of the city itself fills in details in the anecdotes, as if any more were needed. The inclusion of chapter notes at the en ...more
Liz Murray
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved reading this book. Daniel Hernandez paints a high octane, character fueled portrait of DF. It is so much more than a travel book. He takes you in to his world and his experiences in Mexico City all through a highly personal lens. His DF is populated by people he befriends easily and with whom he gets to spend real time with. It made me want to get back to Mexico City as soon as possible and for an extended time if possible. A fabulous book!
John Spencer
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Gritty, poetic and very real life experience of the most amazing and the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. At times surreal in its chronicle of the danger, desire and beauty inherent in 21st century Mexico City. I could not put this book down. Eye opening and riveting reading.
Yamileth Lopez
There were some parts I liked and thought were well written. Then there were many parts where I was bored out of my mind. I had to trudge through the THOROUGHLY detailed scenes. I felt some details were excessive in certain chapters. Also, by the halfway point, I felt his formula was the same for each chapter: talk about an experience, info dump some history, and end with something deep and insightful about the experience. It was like a diary, but some parts were trying way too hard to sound pro ...more
Dec 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I had hoped the book was going to be better. For me it was about a lot of groups of people who into only didn't have anything in common with, but there were too many stories about people on the fringes.
It is still a good book, and I would definitely read other books by the author. But I wanted more about life in 21st century Mexico City.
Nick Chantarasak
May 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting account of Mexico City and it’s residents from a curiosity perspective. I don’t feel like Hernandez ever got completely under the skin of the issues he was reporting on, but nether the less, he managed to uncover quite a clandestine and divided set of issues that go on in the Mexican capital.
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-history, travel
Read in anticipation of my upcoming trip to Mexico City. Hernandez excels at providing readers with a thick description of 1) the city's subcultures and 2) the transnational, postcolonial in-betweenness felt by many Mexican-Americans living in Mexico. ...more
May 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more a book about a Chicano author trying to reconcile his identity as an American in Mexico City than it is about the city itself. I am not sure if the author understood or understands that.
Kerry Kay
Jul 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Priscilla Stuart
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fun read and a realistic look at Mexico City today from a hip young writer.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Entertaining take on a different side of Mexico City.
Dec 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: latin-america
A fun, worthy read prior to spending time in CDMX, Hernandez admirably highlights some of the more fringe cultures that lend their stories to the epic experience that is life in this megalopolis.
Leigh Downes
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting reading while in Mexico City though I feel times have moved on in some ways.
Wade Cawood
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Meh ... can anyone recommend something similar to this please, just needs to be more current, better writing and more interesting. Thanks
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Hernandez relocates himself from LA to DF in search of his roots, of brotherhood and acceptance, of the underbelly of el monstruo. Down & Delirious boasts some true investigative journalism, paired with the author's own search to understand and to be understood. I was less interested in the punk, emo, and fashion end of his investigative spectrum, but he freely dug toward the heart every cultural phenomenon and fad that jumped out at him, and paused afterward to reflect on the situations he'd th ...more
Aug 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Some interesting insights into Mexico, particularly the chapters on the Virgen de Guadalupe, the emo youth culture (and the "riot" in Queretaro where some emos were assaulted),and concerts in poor neighborhoods that end in fights. He effectively portrays his own cultural journey as a Mexican American trying to understand Mexico - the things he was taught in California are not always true, i.e. that La Malinche is not always seen as a traitor. He describes the smoggy, violent, exciting and surrea ...more
I only finished this book because I'm going to Mexico City soon and was hoping to glean something enlightening from it. There was some interesting anecdotal information about various Mexican subcultures, such as punk, emo, and other people living off the beaten path which I enjoyed. But not much in the way of typical life in Mexico.

The writing was a bit dry, and the potential for a good read was totally there due to the nature of the content, which was adventurous and suspenseful at times. But t
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is urban journalism at its finest. Hernandez mixes history, reportage and personal impressions in a well-rounded narrative that’s easy to follow and mucho entertaining. Bonus: the factual part is thoroughly researched and you might even learn something...

’Everything is thrilling in Mexico City because everything is out of whack.’

I bought this book in the Cafebrería bookstore in — surprise, surprise — Mexico City. Doug got something by Martin Amis and we sat in the rooft
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
I was born in Mexico City. I’m a “chilanga” from the southern part of Distrito Federal with family that’s been there since forever. Yet many of the things that Daniel Hernandez writes about are as foreign to me as if he were writing about Mongolia. However, I did find his empirical tales highly captivating and insightful.
A son of Mexicans that was born and grew up in the States, Hernandez’ journey to find his roots takes him to places in Mexico City that I’ve never even thought of entering. Whi
Joy Hepp
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of Hernandez’ greatest talents as a writer is being able to pave the way for readers to enter the worlds he inhabits and create a space for them to explore on their own. Down and Delirious in Mexico City conjures up the megalopolis’ wild urban spell and the youth who are stirring its cauldron.
One of Hernandez’ greatest talents as a writer is being able to pave the way for readers to enter the worlds he inhabits and create a space for them to explore on their own. Down and Delirious in Mexic
Alex Rivas
I enjoyed the very first story of the book, the one that has to do with the Day of the Virgin Guadalupe. I grew up just a few blocks from such landmark "La Basilica de Guadalupe" or "La Villa".

I give the author credit for having the courage to move down to such an unsafe place as is today Mexico City to collect memories and material for this book, however too many pages were written to document in detail certain aspects of Mexico City I have no interest whatsoever like the underground cultures o
Summer Pączek
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book! I read it in one whole night! Well versed and quite empirical! Reading it made me go on a little trip to my native land.
Daniel touches on the tense political environment that is transforming Mexico's society. How political tyranny has affected the population's collective unconscious and subcultures have emerged and others transformed (punks, goths, emos, oligarchs,transvestites and transgendered groups, victims of kidnapping, death cults, indigenous traditions and civil society as a
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