Synopses & Reviews
"THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MEXICO is a grand narrative driven by 3,000 years of history: the Indian world, the Spanish invasion, Independence, the 1910 Revolution, the tragic lives of workers in assembly plants along the border, and the experiences of millions of Mexicans who live in the United States. Mexico is seen here as if it were a person, but in the Aztec way--the mind, the heart, the winds of life--and on every page there are portraits and stories: artists, shamans, teachers, a young Maya political leader--the rich few and the many poor. Earl Shorris is ingenious at finding ways to tell this story: prostitutes in the Plaza Loreto launch the discussion of economics; we are taken inside two crucial elections as Mexico struggles toward democracy; we watch the creation of a popular "telenovela" and meet the country's greatest living intellectual. The result is a work of magnificent scope and profound insight into the divided soul of Mexico.
"This threatens to be one more of those hefty tomes that Mexico has a way of inspiring. But fear not: this 3,000-year history not only distinguishes itself in a field of worthy contenders but does so with flair and insight. An essayist, novelist (Under the Fifth Sun), sociologist (Latinos: A Biography of the People) and National Humanities Medal recipient, Shorris employs his Renaissance man-of-letters credentials to great effect here. Eschewing a more traditional political point of entry to the U.S.'s southern neighbor, he structures a series of narratives, vignettes and analysis around the Aztec concepts of head, heart and liver. Tonalli, the center of vital power, is the section on history and philosophy. Teyolia, the soul located in the heart, treats art and literature, family and essential character. Ihiyotl, located in the liver, is the center of survival and covers education, economics, politics, corruption and race. Shorris closes with a look to the future and two oral histories, deliberately contrasting 'other, far less edited' voices with his own. Though there are more than a few moments when Shorris's prose veers dangerously close to purple, the overall effect is a beautiful, passionate and powerful account of a nation that American readers can ill afford to ignore. 32 pages of illus., 3 maps not seen by PW." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Earl Shorris is the author of Under the Fifth Sun, Latinos, In the Language of Kings (with Miguel León-Portilla), and many other books. He received the National Humanities Medal and the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle. He lives in New York City and San Francisco.