"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Uncomfortable Dead


The Uncomfortable Dead, A Novel by Four Hands: What’s Missing is Missing
Author: Subcomandate Marcos, Paco Taibo III
Publisher: Akashic Books
ISBN-10: 1933354070
ISBN-13: 978-1933354071


I’m a big fan of both Subcomandante Marcos that mysterious Zapatista storyteller that lives in the jungles high in the mountains of Chiapas and Paco Ignacio Taibo, III or PIT 3 as he is affectionately called by his many fans. I fell in love with Marcos’ writing back in 1994 when the first communicados started working their way to La Jornada, a Mexican newspaper that I read almost religiously, although now I find myself reading it on the internet. PIT 3 swept me away with the first Héctor Belascoarán Shayne novel I read, No Happy Ending. The idea of both of these iconic figures writing a book together was just too exciting.

I had read parts of The Uncomfortable Dead in Spanish when it was published in La Jornada in alternating chapters and it drove me crazy waiting for the next week’s installment. It was the talk of our danza circle with everyone printing out the week’s installment on their computers and then passing them around and excitedly jabbering away in Nahuatl, Spanish and English about it. It was more exciting than waiting for our last dance presentation of the night at Zamora Brothers in East L.A. on Virgen de Guadalupe day.

The Uncomfortable Dead is an insanely funny murder mystery. It’s all about good, evil and the crazy politics of Mexico. The book touches on the disappearances of people over the years and of one man named Morales’ involvement in them all. The chapters written by Marcos originate in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, and his investigator, Elias Contreras just happens to be dead, while those written by Taibo are mostly based in Mexico City starring his famous cigarette smoking, coca cola guzzling, one-eyed detective Shayne.

After having had the opportunity to read at Mexico’s Vicente Fox’s oh so casually released report (http://www.commondreams.org/news2006/1121-09.htm) admitting to over 30 years of murder, torture and rape among other atrocities that the government is has been responsible for, well the book really made a bigger impact upon me than I think it would have if I had read it in it’s entirety sooner.

I loved how at times, the characters would discuss their roles in the book and even critiquing it. I found that to be simply hilarious.

Taibo’s Shayne finds more questions than answers as he digs deeper into the search for Morales which started with a late night answering machine from a dead guy. The cast of characters in the book are a comical jumble. There’s a Tijaunero porn star paid to masquerade as Osama Bin Laden in terrorist videos, Pancho Villa, Barney, various ghosts and Gustav Mahler.

I’m not saying anymore because it’s will just seem weirder and weirder. The book is political, funny, wry and insanely entertaining. You’ll just have to read it to find out more.

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