MEXICAN NEW WAVE
"It should be pointed out that An Easy Thing does not require the metaphorical asbestos gloves claimed by the publisher, it is simply an easy on the eye piece of fiction and, if anything, the frequent use of revolutionary rhetoric is just a stylistic point worth skimming over. Where it works is the tawdry depiction, the avoidance of cliché and the ability to crossover out of the confines of its genre."
Andrew Stevens examines the first offering of a new fiction imprint with a difference.
COPYRIGHT © 2005, 3 A.M. MAGAZINE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
An Easy Thing, Paco Ignacio Taibo, Friction Books, London, £7.99
In the summer of 2004, my neighbourhood probably saw more of the Member of Parliament for Glasgow Kelvin than would ordinarily be the case, being that Whitechapel, London E1 tends to be a little off the beaten track for such people. However, as George Galloway wasn't taking in a Jack the Ripper tour or engaging in a spot of the socio-cultural tourism that erupted in the wake of Monica Ali's Brick Lane, I can only assume his visits were in the name of cultivating the core Bangladeshi Muslim vote in the area, it being somewhat preponderant. Had he not done so, I probably wouldn't be writing this review and Mr Galloway would be reclining on a sunbed at his Portuguese villa or something. As it happens, he went on in May 2005 to be elected as the area's Member of Parliament on a radical anti-war platform and subsequent to a now infamous withering attack on all that is Bush in front of the US Senate, garnered more publicity for his new publishing venture than would probably ordinarily be the case.
Friction Books possesses the rather self-assured and provocative boast of its intention to publish "books that burn, books that cause controversy and get people talking" and while we will have to wait for Galloway's no-holds account of 'The Battle of Bethnal Green', the first instalment of radical sentiment comes in the form of a Mexican detective novel. Paco Ignacio Taibo's inclusion on Galloway's roster might appear surprising at first glance as there is little allusion to New Labour lickspittles or Neo-Conservative war-mongering in any of its 245 pages and the partially-disrobed lady on the cover might raise an eyebrow or two among his Muslim associates. However, while I'm highly unlikely to fall into bed with the nearest Imam in the way that Galloway has, I am an early convert to this example of soixant-huitard inflected Central American crime fiction, which owes as much to Marx as it does to Marlowe. The first of a series of eight Hector Belascoaran Shayne novels by Taibo to be secured by Friction, the author's next project is a collaboration with Subcomandante Marcos, the guerrilla leader of Mexico's infamous Zapitistas.
It should be pointed out that An Easy Thing does not require the metaphorical asbestos gloves claimed by the publisher, it is simply an easy on the eye piece of fiction and, if anything, the frequent use of revolutionary rhetoric is just a stylistic point worth skimming over. Where it works is the tawdry depiction, the avoidance of cliché and the ability to crossover out of the confines of its genre. And where the politics does work is its ability to convey to an international audience the institutional paralysis and acceptance of corruption that remains one of the central feature of Mexican political life to this day. An enjoyable and carefree read, Taibo is a household name in his native Mexico and now his champion here has become one perhaps the transition from translated work to established author might be that little bit easier.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andrew Stevens is Co-Editor of 3AM and lives in London, England.