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El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico Cityby John Ross
Synopses & Reviews
John Ross—poet, journalist, and globetrotting troublemaker—has lived in what the Aztec-Mexicas described as "the umbilicus of the universe" since the great Mexico City earthquake of 1985 crushed out as many as 30,000 lives. Over the years, he has watched the city—El Monstruo—pick itself up, bury its dead, and come battling back. But he is filled with a gnawing unease that Mexico City's days as the most gargantuan, chaotic, crime-ridden, toxically contaminated urban stain in the Western world is doomed, that the monster he has grown to know and love through a quarter of a century of reporting on its foibles and tragedies and festering blight will be globalized into one more McCity.
Covering 4,000,000,000 years of history from the primal broth that first spewed out the monster to the Aztec-Mexica oblivion through centuries of rapine and revolution all the way to the Great Swine Flu Panic of 2009, El Monstruo is a phantasmagoric retelling of the story of Mexico City, with which Ross's own history has become hopelessly entwined.
In the tradition of Suketu Mehta's Maximum City, Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives and Joseph Mitchell's Up At The Old Hotel, Ross's El Monstruo is a unique exploration of the mother of all mega-cities. Never before has anyone told from ground level the gritty, vibrant histories of this left city of 23 million faceless, fearless souls, listened to the stories of those who have not been crushed by the Monster, deconstructed the Monstruo's very monstrousness and lived to tell its secrets.
There are 23,000,000 stories in Mexico City, 22,999,997 busted dreams, and 2 or 3 tales of overweening ambition and craven success: John Ross, the great chronicler of Mexico, tells them all
El Monstruo is a valentine to place and useful chronicle of an epoch that has seen Mexicos people find their voice Ross quarter-century as witness does us the invaluable service of putting events to come in a context to understand them.” —Denver Post
John Ross has been living in the old colonial quarter of Mexico City for the last three decades, a rebel journalist covering Mexico and the region from the bottom up. He is filled with a gnawing sense that his beloved Mexico Citys days as the most gargantuan, chaotic, crime-ridden, toxically contaminated urban stain in the western world are doomed, and the monster he has grown to know and love through a quarter century of reporting on its foibles and tragedies and blight will be globalized into one more McCity.
El Monstruo is a defense of place and the history of that place. No one has told the gritty, vibrant histories of this city of 23 million faceless souls from the ground up, listened to the stories of those who have not been crushed, deconstructed the Monstruos very monstrousness, and lived to tell its secrets. In El Monstruo, Ross now does.
About the Author
John Ross is a poet, freelance journalist, and activist currently residing in Mexico City. His articles have appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Nation, CounterPunch, Texas Observer, The Progressive, and La Jornada. His book Rebellion from the Roots won the American Book Award and his somewhat autobiographical memoir Murdered by Capitalism won the Upton Sinclair Award and was a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year.
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