Sunday, March 13, 2005

The Devil's Highway

Luis Alberto Urrea, The Devil's Highway

Its substance is violent: twenty-six migrants, led by a perniciously naive Coyote, try to enter El Norte through a stretch of impassable desert known as El Camino Diablo. They fail. The lucky ones are caught. The unlucky perish.

Reconstructed from interviews, press reports, police statements, and speculation, the book is beautiful but brutal, ironic but earnest, colloquial prose poetry.

From El Papalote, it seems like the myth of the big bad border is just a fairy tale. One step, and presto! You're in the EEUU. Los Estados Unidos. The Yunaites Estaites. There's nothing there. No helicopters, no trucks, no soldiers. There's a tarantula, a creosote bush, a couple of beat saguaros dying of dry rot, some scattered bits of trash, old human and coyote turds in the bushes now mummified into little coal nuggets. Nothing.

A powerful little book. Read at your own risk.


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