Review for "Mexico" by Josh Barkan (2017)
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
Josh Barkan’s “Mexico” is a collection of short stories from people (mostly Americans) of all walks of life living and working around modern-day Mexico City. Running throughout these selections is the theme of violence, mostly from drug dealers, gangs, cartels, and other figures involved in the narcotics trade. In “The Kidnapping,” an American becomes a victim of a violent abduction by a cartel. “The Chef and El Chapo” is about a chef who is forced to cook for the infamous criminal, and “The Sharpshooter” is about a U.S. government agent on a secret mission sent to kill, well, you guessed it…a narco criminal.
Needless to say, I didn’t like this book. In today’s political climate just the mention of the word Mexico is used to connote all things wrong with immigration, the War on Drugs, the American economy, and life in general. Do we Yankees really need more scary stories about what a crime-laden, drug filled place Mexico is? I went into this volume of stories knowing that the majority of it would be about violence, but after reading it my opinion is the same. There’s nothing new here, just a lot of non-emotional storytelling about the dregs of society and the people caught in its grip. It’s yet another narrow, limited view of a multi-faceted country with beautiful and hardworking people, the majority of which are NOT a part of the narco trade.
And there was something else that bothered me…Josh Barkan is a white, Ivy League educated world traveler. The back flap tells us he lives in Mexico City, yet I’m not impressed with this fact. Although the book is titled Mexico, it’s main characters are white people in Mexico, who speak from a self-imposed position of privileged authority. The Mexicans in this volume are mere props, one-dimensional characters from which white folks learn their life lessons about the evils of world. It’s a colonialist’s wet dream, and I hated it.
Do yourself a favor and don’t read this.