Book Review: Mexico by Josh Barkan

Mexico by Josh Barkan

Mexico by Josh Barkan

Josh Barkan’s Mexico is a collection of short stories, most of which are told from the point-of-view of outsiders, people living in Mexico who are not from Mexico. The point of view of the characters gives each story in the book a sort of voyeuristic feel and an outsider’s perspective.

Although the characters from story to story have no obvious connection to each other, what unites them all is violence. In the opening story,”The Chef and El Chapo,” El Chapo walks into a restaurant and demands that the chef make him a delicious meal. The chef, fearful of what El Chapo can do if he doesn’t succeed in preparing something amazing, decides that what El Chapo needs to eat is blood, but not just any blood, the blood of a young, innocent person.

In “The Sharpshooter,” a US army sniper has to make the decision to shoot his friend, a fellow soldier, who’s secretly working with the drug lords. In “The Plastic Surgeon,” a drug lord asks a surgeon to perform extreme plastic surgery on him, essentially transforming him into someone else. The patient dies on the table and the surgeon is left wondering if that was intentional.

The flip scripts a bit in “Escape From Mexico,” which is told not from the perspective of an US citizen in Mexico but from the point of view of a man who immigrated to the US from Mexico as a young boy, fleeing from the gang that sliced his arm open with a machete.

Although the stories in “Mexico” were entertaining and quick reading, there was a sameness to each narrator. The experiences of the characters were similar. Each person is somehow touched by the cartels and the violence connected to the drug wars. But there was just too much of a sameness to each voice, a similarity to each story that made me wonder why an entire book of stories was needed when it seemed like one would suffice.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.