The death of the author’s wife hovers over this densely meandering, poignant look at the simmering violence in his beloved Mexico City.
American novelist and journalist Goldman (Say Her Name, 2011, etc.) writes affectingly about his adopted city, where he had lived on and off since the 1990s. His short second marriage to essayist, graduate student and Mexico City native Aura Estrada ended with her tragic death from a bodysurfing accident while on vacation in 2007, a devastating loss Goldman wrote about eloquently in Say Her Name. Here, the author continues to move through stages of grief—e.g., by relearning how to drive, which he had been unable to do since Aura’s death, as well as by relating with fellow residents' attempts to come to terms with the senseless drug cartel violence that has permeated all levels of Mexican society, especially in politics. Driving around the Distrito Federal, or DF, as the city is known, with its chaotic streets and aggressive drivers, presenting Mexico City zone by zone, Goldman attempted to engage with the city, seek out its secrets and deepen his relationship to it by creating his own “interior circuit.” While he extols the vibrancy, endurance, youthful romance and tolerance of the city, he also confronts head-on its brutality and death wish. The legacy of President Felipe Calderón’s war on the drug cartels, waged from 2006 to 2012, resulted in an explosion of violence against and by the narcos, spilling over into the DF—which had been relatively spared the carnage—in the form of the kidnapping of 11 young people from an after-hours club in May 2013. Goldman followed the case closely, which seemed to implicate both the new DF mayor and president.
A gifted writer submerges his grief in his deep affection for his adopted city.