The Cowboy Bible

Carlos Velazquez, trans. from the Spanish by Achy Obejas. Restless Books, $14.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-63206-022-8
The Cowboy Bible is a book of scripture. It is an inebriated burrito vendor, a talisman, and an anxious teenage girl seeking opportunities to rebel. It is an overweight single mother, a musical instrument, and the enigmatic forces binding Velázquez's surreal collection of prose in his English language debut. Eluding easy classification, the book has three parts: Fiction, Non-fiction, and Neither Fiction Nor Non-fiction. The stories take place in the fictional Mexican state of PopSTock! In the title story, the son of a professional wrestler continues his father's legacy, stepping into the ring under the alias Menace Jr., while also pursuing a career as a DJ, a musician, and a visual art critic. "The Post-Norteño Condition," is mostly dialogue and incorporates a stage play format. Its protagonist, Old Man Don Paulino, attempts to trade his soul and his wife to the Devil for a pair of rare boots. Like these narratives, all of the stories are distinct but share similarities in tone and structure: layers of pop culture references, quoted verses and song lyrics, and references to events mentioned in other portions of the book. In her translation, Obejas superbly amplifies Velázquez's style. Playful and clever, inventive but familiar, this brief book is deeply satisfying, and warrants multiple readings. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/11/2016
Release date: 01/26/2016
Genre: Fiction
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