Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico

Juan Villoro, trans. from the Spanish by Alfred MacAdam. Pantheon, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4888-3
Novelist and journalist Villoro (God Is Round) delivers an erudite and idiosyncratic look at Mexico City and the “fears, illusions, utter annoyance, and whims of living in this place.” Combining the intricacies and peculiarities of the contemporary city with recollections of his childhood there, Villoro describes, for example, how at the age of “ten or twelve,” he and friend would go on hours-long expeditions by sneaking into the back of a milk truck. For people waiting in line to engage with one of the “infinite tasks of government” that take place in Mexico City, a street vendor’s torta de tama “works as a tranquilizer,” Villoro writes, “but only as long as you’re chewing it... after, it becomes a long-term annoyance, harder to digest than the bureaucratic business itself.” He also describes the city’s cafés, its commuting culture (certain streets “are a parking lot that sometimes moves”), pre-Hispanic mythologies, and the lives of its street children. Throughout, Villoro weaves in literary references (Amado Nervo, Alfonso Reyes, Ezra Pound) and offers stinging critiques of the country’s plutocracy, whose “luxury depends on poverty.” Though Villoro’s fragmentary approach can be disorienting, this is a stimulating portrait of one of the world’s most mind-bending metropolises. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/08/2021
Release date: 03/23/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-5247-4889-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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