Mexican fiction writer Morales ( Brick People ) exhibits his range in a novel showing Hispanic doctors battling deadly infectious diseases over three centuries. The first section, a rather formal historical account, tells of an 18th-century Spanish physician sent to Mexico to diagnose and cure a plague, LaMona. The epidemic eventually subsides by itself, but the physician has fallen in love with New Spain and decided to make it his home. A contemporary Hispanic doctor living in Los Angeles affectingly narrates the book's second portion. When his wife, a hemophiliac, contracts AIDS through a contaminated blood transfusion, he takes her to Mexico to participate in an Indian healing ritual; although spiritually uplifting, the ceremony cannot halt the disease's ravages. The second doctor's grandson, also a physician, relates the final story, set in the future. A plague eerily similar to LaMona sweeps the population of Lamex, a U.S./Mexican technocratic confederation. The medical establishment is helpless until the narrator discovers that transfusions from pure-blooded Mexico City residents will cure the disease--the metropolis is so hideously polluted that its inhabitants' blood has genetically mutated, developing an antibody to the plague. Morales's unabashed ethnic chauvinism becomes hard to take: AIDS, it appears, was invented in a U.S. laboratory and exported to Africa; the Anglo-European presence that has oppressed Mexicans for centuries finally gets its just deserts in the SF finale. However, inventive writing and interesting premises spark the work. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991 Release date: 01/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
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