Travel Advisory: Stories of Mexico

David Lida, Author
David Lida, Author William Morrow & Company $24 (272p) ISBN 978-0-688-17406-4
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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True to its title, Lida's collection of 10 disturbing short stories is likely to give pause to tourists heading south of the border. The author, a former resident of Mexico City, portrays Mexicans and travelers alike as treacherous and unhappy, preying mercilessly on each other. In short, mostly slice-of-life vignettes, plump, pink-skinned North American and British tourists patronize their hosts, and servile or hostile Mexicans endure their presence. If the tourists are not being robbed, they are being raped--by the police. If the housemaids are not being treated like slaves, then they are being raped--by their employers. A travel journalist gets more than she had bargained for when she interviews a male witch in a provincial town; a wealthy American pedophile picks up a young street urchin; a woman takes a spur-of-the-moment trip to a Mexican beach resort with a virtual stranger. One of the few foreigners who stays in the country for any length of time is a British photojournalist, a defeated man who is drinking himself to death. The strongest story tracks a taxi driver and his buddies who routinely fleece customers by terrifying them into giving up the PINs of their credit cards. In this case, the gang is robbed by one of its own and the ""customer"" dies of a heart attack. Even the thieves have a hard time of it in Lida's Mexico. Gritty and unforgiving, these stories revel in the more cruelly exploitative of cross-cultural relationships. Lida's tone is sometimes shrill, but when he eschews easy satire he paints a convincing, unvarnished picture of a struggling country. (Feb.)
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