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Mexico: Stories by Josh Barkan

Mexico: Stories

by Josh Barkan

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10264167,113 (3.35)13

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True to my word, I am making a conscious effort to read more short stories. I was very excited to hear about this series of short stories. I don't know much about Mexico except what is on the news so I was really looking forward to reading diverse stories on the culture and the people who live in Mexico in the hopes that it would give me a new perspective.

The unforgettable characters in this story collection range from chef to architect to high school teacher to beauty queen (and everything in between). They are all trying to lead simple lives. Yet somehow crime has a way of intruding into their lives - and the way it shapes them is unimaginable. Time and time again, the walls between "ordinary life" and violence are shown to be more closely linked than one might like, and the consequences of these connections are life-changing.

While the characters and the stories are interesting, the constant recurring theme of violence and drug cartels caused all of the different stories to meld into one. Because of this effect, the short stories began to lose their charm. I agree that a collection should have some central theme but the stories themselves had to do with the same things and the same actions, and after a while, there really wasn't anything new being presented. Some of the characters and their experiences left really strong impressions in me, which was definitely a positive thing! I wish this novel wasn't so fixated on the negatives of Mexico; while there are loads of drug cartels, there is also beauty and charm and culture in this country and none of this was really expressed well in this story. So while the characters and the writing style were interesting, the overall collection left me disappointed because of its dismal portrayal of Mexico and its lack of uniqueness between the different short stories.

I received this novel as an advanced copy from Blogging for Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

For more reviews, visit: www.veereading.wordpress.com ( )
  veeshee | Jan 29, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mexico: Stories by Josh Barkan is a collection of fictional short stories, all taking place in Mexico. The collection was awarded runner up for the Juniper Prize for Fiction, 2014, t and runner up for the Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, 2014.

A collection of short stories are always difficult to write about because the stories range in interest and quality. Mexico: Stories by Josh Barkan is no exception, as the talented writer tell his tales.

The Mexico which Mr. Barkan depicts is violent, poor and hopeless, I don’t know why anyone would want to live there. The stories try to tell about slices of life in Mexico, but they all have a common theme of violence, drug lords and constant daily fear and uncertainty.

I’m not sure how realistic these stories are, truthfully, I hope never to find out. Many of the stories are written in first person which allows the reader to go into the protagonist’s head.

None of the stories, I thought, were especially memorable – but I’m not a big fan of short stories. There was also no overreaching arc which ties the stories together with the exception that they all take place in Mexico.

The stories seemed to be as if the author started writing a non-fiction narrative and then changed it midway, it worked some of the time, but other times it did not. The rating I gave is an overall average for the book, as I mentioned before, short stories collections are difficult to grade.

For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com ( )
  ZoharLaor | Nov 2, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This one was not a good match for me. I got about halfway through, but there was a sameness to the stories and I couldn't take the unrelenting violence anymore. My favorite story of the eight stories I read was "The God of Common Names." I got stuck on "The Painting Professor."
  tbritny | Jul 27, 2017 |
This is a collection of stories, each features a central character from a different profession. The recurring theme of these stories is the struggle of daily life in a country where the drug cartels operate with no laws. The book has a grim and hopeless tone, although we are exposed to the trial of exposing one's emotions and the need to maintain a "normal" life until the touch of evil is felt. My thanks to the author and the Penguin First to Read program for a complimentary copy. ( )
  musichick52 | May 27, 2017 |
“Ten seconds before they kidnapped me, son of a bitch, I was walking my dog, Azteca.”

I love linked short stories and I also like stories that follow a central theme. This, strong well-written
collection, deals with the latter. Most of these tales, involve working class people, living in Mexico City or other Mexican locales. Many of these characters, are Americans, with Mexican ties, (much like the author himself).
How these “regular” lives, clash and cross paths with the dangerous cartels, is the running theme. It is truly terrifying. How a life can be turned upside down in an instant, is truly frightening.
This is Barkan's first collection of stories and it is an impressive debut. ( )
  msf59 | Mar 29, 2017 |
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A short story collection traces the experiences of everyday citizens, expats, and travelers in Mexico whose lives are turned upside down by the violence and chaos of the drug cartels.

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