Kirkus Star


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Like Children of Sanchez, Pedro Martinez is a landmark in anthropological literature. Another tape-recorded real-life testimony, a big, bustling, brotherly mn to down-but-never-out humanity. It tracks the troubled terrain of Mexico again, this time from the early zapatista days through the Revolution onwards. The scene of Sanchez was the urban gutter of Casa Grande; here it is the village of zteca. The tale is that of a peasant family told by three of its members: Pedro, he father, Esperanza, his wife, and Felipe, the eldest son. What makes it so oving, so disturbing? The tone is almost impersonally intimate, the monologic reniscences colloquial; it is rarely, if ever, self-conscious. Consider it a folk poem drenched with hard, hacking details, with varying moods of violence and victimizations, of ideals, disillusionments and love. It is a document of terrible simplicity, unmistakably real and revelatory, and in Pedro himself we have a sort of 20th century folk hero, embodying social constraint and social change, going from childhood deprivations to radical youth to authoritarian family man to village elder, responding to this government or that creed, then fed up with the cultural bamboozlements, the random squalor. What use is freedom, asks Pedro, if it does not bring justice? It is the rich voice of the poor waiting to be answered.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1964
Publisher: Random House