Three Messages and a Warning - By Eduardo Jimenez Mayo Page 0,2

ideas on disease, death, and love inexplicably loosen and take flight thanks to the regenerative power of the literary imagination.

Code and Recode

Chris N. Brown

During a recent vacation to the Mexican coast, I acquired an unusual souvenir: a hand-painted votive plate featuring the Virgin of Guadalupe fighting Osama bin Laden to prevent him from detonating any nuclear weapons in the Americas. In the plate, Osama is a much bigger figure than la Virgen, who is herself just a little bit larger than the devil over Osama’s shoulder. When I asked the shopkeeper, an expat Italian woman typical of the sandalista-occupied Mayan town of Tulum, where she had found the piece, she explained that “it was made by ancient peoples.”

The stories in this anthology were not made by ancient peoples. They were made by 21st century people. But they share with my virginal Osama plate a confounding of our expectations of what Mexican artistic self-expression is supposed to look like. While our cover features some skeletons with monarch butterfly wings, you will not find any Day of the Dead tropes in these stories, or any images from the Frida Kahlo calendar. You may find some things that you are inclined to categorize as magic realism, but you will be hard-pressed to situate them in some humid post-colonial cultural haze.

This anthology endeavors to collect stories that express a 21st century perspective, of a multicultural, media-drunk, post-postmodern society. Stories that participate in a panoply of cross-cultural conversations, while doing so in a uniquely Mexican voice that runs through the stories, even though the authors may come from very different ends of the Mexican literary scene. This is a literary culture that still enjoys mass appreciation of the importance of verse, where large crowds gather in public plazas to hear poets read their work. But it is also a culture whose everyday consciousness includes, alongside folkloric traditions and indigenous cuisines integrated into the fabric of daily life, memories of seeing a space probe’s photos of the surface of Mars, and minds plugged into the mediated networks that dominate our global perceptions.

The stories come from a culture that itself would probably never collect these authors in a single volume. Perhaps reflecting the diverse interests of the editors—a scholar of Spanish literature and a science fiction writer who independently approached the same publisher with a very similar idea (and who, oddly, both also happen to be lawyers), this anthology includes established figures of the literary mainstream alongside products of the indigenous Mexican science fiction scene. While the regard for the likes of Phillip K. Dick and J.G. Ballard espoused by writers such as Roberto Bolaño has given more credibility to sf as a literature of worth among Mexican culturati, Mexican writers who declare themselves authors of ciencía ficción often feel like outsiders, no more welcome at the party than a pulp space squid at a reunion of Raymond Carver characters. But grouped together here, one can see a common perspective that reveals the pieces as flowing in the same river.

These are all stories in which rational explanations for remarkable things are not required or expected. Products of a world that the authors all understand cannot really be explained with numbers and laws, a world full of phenomena for which the priests, policemen, and psychics have no credible answers. Perhaps these authors recognize that some things are better left without explanations, just as they realize that some stories do better without too much “story” structure —products of a literary culture in which paragraph-long atmospheres count, and in which catholic rules of time and tense, point of view, and the separation between reality and fantasy can be broken without sanction or permanent banishment to generic ghettos. These are stories that can walk through walls. Even border walls.

The stories, and their authors and editors, also owe a great debt to the translators who have undertaken the difficult task of bringing these works of a uniquely Mexican Spanish into a form we hope preserves them largely intact for English language readers to fully experience their magic. Our translators are all volunteers, some of them young American scholars of Spanish literature, some American writers with an adequate dose of Spanish language competency and a strong desire to decode the work of another, and in some cases Mexican or expat friends and neighbors of the authors. This was not an easy book to collect and compile, but we hope you agree the effort has produced fantastic results.

Today, You Walk Along a Narrow Path

María

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