San Lorenzo Cazahuates is a sleepy Mexican village that suffers exploitation silently and relies on its only artist, the boy Maclovio, to commemorate the small favors granted by its patron saint in painted ""miracles."" The town's quiet desperation explodes unexpectedly when Cucurrucu, named for his rippling dove-like speech, leaves to become a priest and returns as a teacher dedicated to spreading the fires of rebellion. The uprising, which at first seems to have been successful, ends in more misery for the survivors who are preyed upon by former hacienda guards turned bandit -- and in tragedy for Maclovio who is blinded in the battle, left friendless in a strange town by the death of his healer/companion Don Cipriano and reduced to begging in the streets of Zacatecas. The not unwilling martyrdom of Cucurrucu and Maclovio's transformation of his artistic vision into spiritual insight tap a vein of epic fatalism, and only the tale, which Maclovio recalls in his deepest despair, of Juan Soldado, the good and clever gambler who beat the devil at his own game, holds any hope for a less self-destructive form of revolution. Cal Roy, an American, has created an intensely Mexican novel; the idiom, the folklore and the spirit of the long revolution are translated with integrity. And even if, like many of Maclovio's fellow villagers, one rejects his withdrawal into mysticism, it is projected from within, never merely described, with unquestionable authenticity.