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A look at Mexican life on the border town of Tecate that reeks less of magic realism and more of a high-school creative writing exercise. Newcomer Reveles offers heavy-handed tales of less-than-colorful residents that are not, as he suggests, unbelievable, but rather unbelievably dull. In ""Of Time and Circumstance,"" a Hollywood filmmaker decides to build a house in Tecate and learns that hospitality abounds, people aren't always what they seem, and, in the only non-stereotypical revelation, roosters don't say cock-a-doodle-doo but kee-kee-ree-kee. The title character in ""Jeemy"" moves his furniture business to Tecate from Los Angeles to escape taxes and alimony payments; he lives like Donald Trump until, after a fortunetelling bird predicts he will lose all his money, his million dollars disappear with the bank nationalization of 1982. When the town's workers leave the fields but still manage to buy liquor and clothes, the landowners think they've discovered ""The Miracle"" of El Tigre (a hermit said to have buried money in the canyon where the workers live) and imagine their crops and their fortunes ruined; but the future looks brighter when they realize the money has come from a California mission (gringos exporting welfare), and they put a stop to it. A woman discovers her husband is having an affair and ignores all conventional advice, which suggests she look the other way (since no wife can possibly divorce even a worthless husband and break up a family), and confronts ""The Other Woman""; but when this proves fruitless, she is reduced, as a friend puts it, to ""shading the sun with one finger."" Despite the opening disclaimer for American readers that acknowledges that male chauvinism and female submissiveness are exasperating, Reveles has the audacity to suggest that equality is on its way in Mexico while offering no such evidence. Sophomoric descriptions -- like Mexican legal secretaries being ""all bosom and thighs mounted on two pins"" -- don't help. Hard to digest.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0345384261
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Ballantine