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A sociologist and anthropologist who has shared his findings with an interested public (Life in a Mexican Village Five Families, etc.) further explores the Mexican case studies in the culture of poverty in a wholly novel way. He has selected a poor family in Mexico City and- through rotating his interviews and tape- recordings -- gives an inside view of the whole pattern of family life. It is a grim picture that emerges, with little of relief by way of humor or compassion (the one for the other) or even of love, beyond its sexual manifestations. There is an occasional drive for gaiety, for relief from barrenness, and even less frequently a momentary hope for a better life. But in the main, life proceeds at the level of bare subsistence (and that in terms lower than one cares to accept as living). The father, Jesus Sanchez, loses first one ""wife"", then another, but he at least has a sense of the necessity of maintaining a home of sorts for a drifting family. That the room in which they all sleep and cat and live -- one room for sometimes a half dozen adults and as many children! Manual, despite his peripatetic ""marital"" career, has some sense of responsibility about occasionally earning a few pesos; Roberto is completely amoral, his thieveries start in his own home- and eventually land him, recurrently, in jail; Consuelo and Marta have their men, their babies, their loves and hates and quarrels and sniping at each other and the succession of other women that their father and brothers bring home. As successive recordings are read, one often gets different sides of the same argument, different interpretations of the same events. And at the close, when the father sums up his simple goals: ""to give the kids what he can"" at least they go on living and growing ... until they can earn their own living. I want to leave them a room, that's my they can live there together....Just a modest place they can't be thrown out of...."" and so- in the reporting, there is compassion. A strange book to place. Sociologists -- professional and the armchair variety -- will find it important Whether the general public -- to whom this is no Middletown -- has enough of social conscience to spread to Mexico- is a question. We feel the market will be special.

Publisher: Random House