A debut collection of ten stories, all set in Mexico and revolving to some degree'as Mexico itself does'around the conflicts and confusions engendered through daily interactions with neighbors from the big country up north. Borderlands have always provided rich material for writers, and the Mexican borderlands have exercised a powerful claim on the American imagination. Lida, who has lived in both Mexico and the US, is able to make good use of the Mexican-American polarity in his work. 'Bewitched' describes an American travel writer investigating witchcraft rituals in a flyblown Mexican resort. Like many of the Americans here, she's somewhat desperate and at loose ends herself, and she succeeds in projecting her own discomfort onto her surroundings, making them more alien and threatening than they in fact are. 'Taxi' depicts a Mexican cabdriver who, unable to make ends meet by the meter, works out a scheme with two other thugs to hijack and rob his passengers'not all of whom are tourists. In 'La Quedada,' we're introduced to a JMP (Jewish-Mexican Princess) who worries obsessively about how she is the last of her friends not to have found a nice Jewish man to settle down with, while 'Prenuptial Agreement' shows another side of the coin in its portrayal of the unhappy affair being carried on by a Texan couple on vacation. The most evocative piece is 'Shuttered': an eerie, Graham Greene'ish account of an unambitious English photographer who lives on IOUs in a little backwater town and contents himself with seducing the local girls. Although most of Lida's stories are little more than portraits'and fairly sketchy ones, at that'he manages to get enough poignant detail into them to achieve a depth of vision rarely found even in most novels today.
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