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The Virgin's Guide to Mexico: A Novelby Eric B. Martin
"Martin's fast-paced strangeness gives the novel a fluid, cinematic feel, and his unusual yet believable characters prevent the novel from feeling like it's trying too hard. Witches, wild boars, crowded Mexican bars — finally, a guidebook that tells you how to experience the real Mexico." John Burgman, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
A novel about crossing the border in the opposite direction: from wealthy, suburban Texas into the wild heart of Mexico.
Alma Price is seventeen — she's smart, she's angry, and she's going to Mexico. Her grandfather lives there, or so she thinks, although it's hard to know what's true with a lying mother who raised her amongst the blond brigade of their rich Texas neighborhood. Sick of suburbia, Alma hops a bus, crosses the border, gets a disguise, and winds through the thugs and witches and whores, ultimately disappearing in the heart of Mexico City.
Her parents, Hermelinda and Truitt, are right behind her, swerving their big SUV around hallucinogenic cacti and through herds of wild pigs, trying to save their daughter and maybe even their marriage. But in her effort to bring her daughter home to Texas, Hermelinda finds that Mexico is slowly drawing her back in, reminding her of who she is and where she's from, and just maybe leading her toward a reconciliation with both her past and her estranged daughter.
Confident, vicious, funny, and filled with the wild leaps of imagination, The Virgin's Guide to Mexico unleashes the full arsenal of an explosive, daring writer.
"Martin's earnestly beat novel tracks homely, studious Alma Price — resigned to being forgettable — as she disappears from her affluent Austin, Tex., home to trace her Mexican roots. Alma deferred her freshman year at Harvard hoping to go to Spain, only to have her parents insist that if she doesn't go off to Harvard, she enroll at the University of Texas. Instead, Alma is determined to figure out how her chilly, beautiful Mexican mother, Hermelinda, managed to transform herself from a maid's daughter into a rich dot-com wife. Armed with a year of Spanish, a lot of moxie and a cache of letters sent to her mother by her grandfather from Mexico City, Alma chops off her hair, assumes the moniker 'The Kid' and joins a gang of young American men headed for the border whorehouses. Alma's perspective emerges in a winning torrent of observations, and though a transvestite prostitute discovers her secret, she makes a pretty good boy. Alternate chapters clarify Hermelinda's motivations for leaving Mexico and her secret tenderness for her troubled daughter, as Hermelinda and her husband (and Alma's father), Truitt, trace Alma's route to Mexico City with a detective's help. Part bildungs-road novel, part family saga and part identity lit, Martin's third novel is all heart." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[I]nvokes both On the Road and The Catcher in the Rye..." Texas Monthly
"[O]ne of those works that urges you to read its passages again and again..." The Skinny Magazine
"The Virgin's Guide to Mexico is somehow still more than the sum of its parts, and somehow, against all odds, absolutely new." Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby and My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up
Confident, vicious, funny, and filled with the wild leaps of imagination, this novel about crossing the border in the opposite direction follows a teenager's escape into the wild heart of Mexico.
About the Author
Eric B. Martin wrote The Virgin's Guide to Mexico from 20012006 in Mexico City and California. Raised in Maine, he was educated in Austin, Durham, and Quito, Ecuador. He has worked on vineyards, beer trucks, tobacco fields, and in homeless shelters. The recent recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, he is the author of the novels Luck and Winners, which was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. He lives in San Francisco on the corner of Mission and Cesar Chavez.
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