A story about Mexico, written by an American who lives in Canada; odd, but interesting. Let me explain. D. Grant Fitter has studied and worked in Mexico long enough to know and understand that place, which is very different from the United States, as we will learn. He says he thinks he must have been Mexican in another life. In his tale Arturo Fuentes, a young businessman moves to Mexico City in 1943 and opens a glass bottle factory using sand from his native region. In short order he falls in with a famous Mexican dancer and some shady characters from the totally corrupt government of that nation. The story winds through the headlines of the 1940’s as Perez Prado becomes internationally popular and the rumba sweeps the nation’s dance floors. In the meantime corrupt politicians deal themselves in on every business transaction of consequence, with Fuentes swept along and becoming wealthy in the process.
This story reads like Gabriel Garcia Marquez was given a stack of old newspapers from 1943-1948 and told to write a mystery/thriller. It has dreamy descriptions of rich coffee and aged rum served up in restaurants and night clubs of the period, then business deals, the development of Mexico City bus service, the presidential election of Miguel Aleman, and the development of Acapulco. It’s told in linear, first person prose eliciting more curiosity than tension or suspense until the end when it finishes up tidy.
So, interesting but not literature. It’s a primer in how government corruption infects every part of life, and it isn’t unique to Mexico. It’s happening in Egypt as we speak, and it’s always trying to happen in the United States. That’s why our two party political system has stood the test of time. Mexico now has a two party political system, and they’re a better nation for it.