Sonata

Charles Bowden. Univ. of Texas, $24.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-4773-2223-9
Journalist Bowden (1945–2014) concludes his six-part “Unnatural History of America” series with this fragmentary meditation on life and art in the American Southwest. Blending elements of fiction and nonfiction, Bowden recounts conversations with border agents and smugglers, including a man who once charged $650 to bring undocumented immigrants from the border to stash houses 40 miles north; shares stories of deportees kidnapped and tortured by Mexican cartels seeking ransom money from their U.S. relatives; and details encounters between Spanish conquistadors and indigenous peoples. Evocative descriptions of sandhill cranes, hawks, herons, and other Southwestern flora and fauna brush up against harrowing reports of drug-related violence and ruminations on the creative process. In a series of interludes, Bowden seems to find a kinship with Vincent van Gogh, who “tries to dream a life of color... but the fears and dark things drag him down.” Themes of borders, memory, and trauma appear throughout, as Bowden probes the relationship between beauty and pain, sanity and art. Steeped in imagination and the lived experience of life in the borderlands, this mournful, achingly poetic account is a fitting capstone to Bowden’s career. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/23/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-4773-2224-6
Book - 978-1-4773-2225-3
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