About the Book
Jean and Red, librarians in San Francisco and life partners, have traveled the world but found their paradise in a lovely village in Mexico. Young and influenced by 1960s idealism, they decide to build a dream house there in their old age. When they retire in 1993 and begin building the house, they encounter a new Mexico filled with political corruption, police brutality and violence against women. A serial murderer is loose in the village, inspiring Red and Jean to attempt arming and defending the women of Mexico.
This complex and exciting literary thriller brings many perspectives to the reader: the changing roles of men and women in Mexico, the violence of third-world men, the endemic political corruption of the wealthy ruling class and its hit men, the ancient Indian cosmos and its fiestas, the world of Mexican brujos and their magical powers. Moving from palaces of the wealthy to the huts of brujos to the most criminal haunts of Mexico today, the novel challenges the power of Red and Jean’s feminism and first-world liberalism.
For them, however, the effort is harrowing: can they save the village women? Will they even get out alive?
WHEN THE TWO women first saw the tiny Mexican village beneath low, rolling hills, it struck them as a kind of Eden. It was Jean who first used that word, uttered the myth. Words, those unkempt, wayward fountains, oddly ardent bedfellows, were immediate with her. They flowed out of her like some swollen, deep-running river, close to flood. Red, her lover and partner on the trip, would never have used that word. She said nothing, but her normally quick, sly smile was as slow, gentle, and spontaneous as your grandmother’s. She was already a Believer. It came not as revelation but a sudden expiration of breath: yes, they had found it, a kind of paradise. They never knew they were looking for it.
They first told me about the village over beer at my favorite lesbian bar, Maud’s Study, in San Francisco. Where else would we hold forth so merrily on Eden? Only where the most threadbare dreams and shimmering, sacred mysteries all begin—and end. Who am I to know? I’m Lynne Lonidier, perpetual pundit and diehard local of San Francisco, the crazy lesbian poet on the hill in the Mission, drinking buddy to the most scantily-clad followers of Wicca, rock-hard bitches, foul-mouthed drag queens, poetasters and gourmands, and druggy-fuzzy know-it-alls in this town, the madwoman who lives with a pet dog, cat, snake, fish, rat, and lizard. I’m democratic, if nothing else. A loudmouth in luxury bursts with an extra room in her little house with a hopelessly overgrown garden and seven trees around it like some religious shrine. I’m the woman people tell their stories to, owner of a room that’s always open to every sad soul who’s had the life and dreams crushed out of her like that blackened, stone-dead cigarette.
It was so unexpected, Jean continued. The fraternal din at Maud’s was lower then, and I could almost hear if I tried. I always try. They had picked a town spontaneously on a map, a way they often traveled on their vacations. They craved adventure, the unexpected, and they found it, as life so perversely grins and throws dice. The chosen city in Mexico was roughly central to the jagged country that’s shaped like a crumpled, pungent old boot. So they chose it, center of the world, budget bullseye.