Synopses & Reviews
Twenty miles south of the Arizona-Mexico border, the rugged, beautiful Sierra Madre mountains begin their dramatic ascent. Almost 900 miles long, the range climbs to nearly 11,000 feet and boasts several canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. The rules of law and society have never taken hold in the Sierra Madre, which is home to bandits, drug smugglers, Mormons, cave-dwelling Tarahumara Indians, opium farmers, cowboys, and other assorted outcasts. Outsiders are not welcome; drugs are the primary source of income; murder is all but a regional pastime. The Mexican army occasionally goes in to burn marijuana and opium crops the modern treasure of the Sierra Madre but otherwise the government stays away. In its stead are the drug lords, who have made it one of the biggest drug-producing areas in the world.
Fifteen years ago, journalist Richard Grant developed what he calls an unfortunate fascination with this lawless place. Locals warned that he would meet his death there, but he didn't believe them until his last trip. During his travels Grant visited a folk healer for his insomnia and was prescribed rattlesnake pills, attended bizarre religious rituals, consorted with cocaine-snorting policemen, taught English to Guarijio Indians, and dug for buried treasure. On his last visit, his reckless adventure spiraled into his own personal heart of darkness when cocaine-fueled Mexican hillbillies hunted him through the woods all night, bent on killing him for sport.
With gorgeous detail, fascinating insight, and an undercurrent of dark humor, God's Middle Finger brings to vivid life a truly unique and uncharted world.
"As he travels through Mexico's Sierra Madre, one of the largest drug-producing regions in the world, British journalist Grant (American Nomads) encounters a rugged landscape where the mythical old Mexico meets the challenges of the new. The birthplace of Pancho Villa and the Apaches' last refuge, the Sierra Madre has long been home to outlaws and eccentric characters that inspired a variety of American westerns. Into this legendary danger zone, with its exceptionally high murder rate, rides Grant on horseback, though he has never ridden previously. Grant is the finest kind of travel narrator; though fully cognizant of the dangers and foolhardiness of his obsession with this land, he throws himself into crazy situations, such as a quest for buried gold treasure, a sampling of Mexican folk remedies, a terrifying Tarahumara Indian ritual when 'God gets into his annual drinking bout with the Devil,' a little cocaine or 'blasting parakeet' with local drug dealers, and lots and lots of drinking. He narrates these adventures with unflappable charm and humor, risking his life to the reader's benefit, shared fear and delight of discovery. Though eventually worn out by his physically and emotionally challenging journey, Grant still manages to produce a clear-eyed, empathetic account of this complex, fascinating place." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] fascinating book, filled with tales that will surely keep readers in suspense. Grant's own near-death experience alone will captivate them. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"It was an arduous trip for Grant, but readers will be glad that he took it." Booklist
"This is exactly the book you're hoping for when you pick it up: a crazy, sprawling story so well-written, you can't decide whether to keep reading or go to Mexico to see for yourself. Keep reading: You have an extraordinary book in your hands." Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm
"There is nothing here of the 'I jumped over a puddle' aspect of modern adventure stories. As an Englishman, Grant has far too much of the mad dog in his character, and I am surprised indeed that he survived his journey. This is a thoroughly enlivening book, the rare kind that makes you want to sleep with a pistol under your pillow." Jim Harrison, author of Returning to Earth
Part gonzo misadventure, part cultural history, God's Middle Finger explores a fascinating land the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico where few outsiders are foolish enough to venture.
About the Author
andlt;bandgt;Richard Grantandlt;/bandgt; is an award-winning travel writer who has published his work in andlt;iandgt;Men's Journal, Esquireandlt;/iandgt;, and andlt;iandgt;Detailsandlt;/iandgt;, among others. He is also the author of andlt;iandgt;American Nomads andlt;/iandgt;and andlt;iandgt;God's Middle Fingerandlt;/iandgt;. Grant currently lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Table of Contents
Prologue 1 Boiled Vultures 2 Dead Soldiers 3 Bad Man in a Dress 4 Sleeping with Lions 5 Intrepid Norwegian 6 For Their Health 7 Lofty's Gold 8 Blasting Parakeet with The Pelican 9 Hat Talk 10 A Girl Needs a Pistol 11 Bandit Country 12 The Secret Sex Lives of Narcotraficantes 13 The Liver Does Not Exist 14 God Is Drunk 15 Sons of Obscene Perpetrations 16 The Centaur of the North 17 Deliverance in Durango Selected Bibliography Index