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Esquire
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007
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The Virgin's Guide to Mexico: A Novel

by Eric B. Martin

Siestas, Fiestas, and Drag Queen Hookers

A review by John Burgman

What did you do with all that Spanish you learned in high school? Weasel your way out of jail time during your Spring Break in Tijuana? Impress your novia with your pronunciation of chalupas? Well, Alma Price used it to hitch across the Mexican border and party with a band of drugged-out hooligans and tranny whores. In Eric B. Martin's novel, The Virgin's Guide to Mexico, this outcast teenager blows off Harvard, disguises her gender, and learns that witches do exist, all to answer some burning questions: Why does my Mexican mother hate Mexicans? How far can these stolen credit cards take me?

Fortunately the novel, sprinkled with Spanish that even you can understand, soon deviates from the beat-exhausted territory of crazy-shit-experienced-while-traveling to chronicle the Price family's frantic attempt to reconnect with each other and the past. 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.


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