Marc Bojanowski, Author . Morrow $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-059560-9

Twenty-seven-year-old Bojanowski takes a hard look at death and devotion in 1940s Mexico in this provocative debut. Narrated in a confident, macho-mythic voice ("The dead mens skins had paled some in the moonlight. But more from the dark slits in their throats. Like when a fish is brought from water") by an unnamed young man, the story follows his quest to find—and prove—himself. Raised on the stories of fierce men his grandfather told him, the narrator grows up cruel and strong, unmindful of his mother and disgusted by his sensitive father. He goes to California, kills a man and is sent back to Mexico, where he finds work in Canción, a small Baja city controlled by a corrupt businessman named Cantana. At first a worker on a Cantana construction project, the narrator falls under the spell of the dog fights, in which men, wearing a glove fitted with knives, battle dogs to the death. What begins as a search for fame and respect offers a chance to warm the narrator's heart: Cantana's stunning mistress, glimpsed in the midst of a gruesome dog fight ("Hot from the fighting and angry that I could not find her in the crowd of ugly faces I kicked the dog in the soft of its stomach"). Animal lovers and tenderhearted readers, beware. But the narrator forms a friendship with a sentimental poet, pines for the woman and tries to develop a conscience in a world that seems to have none. Eventually, of course, he must do battle with Cantana himself. Bojanowski is adept at charting the anxieties of a small city on the brink of expansion and the darkness of men's hearts. Agent, Zoe Pagnamenta . (June)

Reviewed on: 04/26/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-06-059758-0
Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-06-227620-9
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