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 Promising debut about an aging Bostonian who confronts his midlife crisis in Mexico. Frank Reed is overweight, alcoholic, and disillusioned. His once-posh Boston neighborhood is in decline, the reputation he held as someone on the way up in his company has vanished, and his marriage has lost its energy. When his boss dispatches him to the Mexican border to secure land for the company's new factory, Reed fears it's just a ploy to get him out of the way while a new man is installed. Once in Mexico, he drinks too much, eats too much, and unravels. He gets lost driving in the desert, wakes up in an isolated village, and falls in love with a Mexican girl, Socorro, whose only ambition is to make it to the States. Reed runs all over Mexico with her, feeling young and vital again. He entertains a variety of dreams about the future, imagining himself as a mechanic in some small town, say, married to Socorro, surrounded by children. After a bucolic visit with Socorro's family and an idyllic holiday in Mexico City, Reed has some sordid adventures along the border, before eventually succeeding in smuggling Socorro into the country. Then, by a fluke, he loses her and returns to Boston. His marriage is irreparably damaged, he loses his job, and, a chain-smoker, his health is imperiled. Death impends. After some fine chapters, Toma's story stumbles to an end, leaving his hapless middle-aged man neither wiser nor happier. Nonetheless, the prose here is powerful, impressionistic, and deftly ironic, and the minor characters, such as the expatriate American woman who sells trinkets and has seemingly sampled every self-actualization movement ever known, are memorable.

Pub Date: Dec. 20th, 1996
ISBN: 0-87074-400-3
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Southern Methodist Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1996