Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pg. 69: "The Virgin's Guide to Mexico"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Eric B. Martin's The Virgin's Guide to Mexico.

About the book, from the publisher's website:

A novel about crossing the border in the opposite direction: from wealthy, suburban Texas into the wild heart of Mexico.

Alma Price is seventeen — she’s smart, she’s angry, and she’s going to Mexico. Her grandfather lives there, or so she thinks, although it’s hard to know what’s true with a lying mother who raised her amongst the blond brigade of their rich Texas neighborhood. Sick of suburbia, Alma hops a bus, crosses the border, gets a disguise, and winds through the thugs and witches and whores, ultimately disappearing in the heart of Mexico City.

Her parents, Hermelinda and Truitt, are right behind her, swerving their big SUV around hallucinogenic cacti and through herds of wild pigs, trying to save their daughter and maybe even their marriage. But in her effort to bring her daughter home to Texas, Hermelinda finds that Mexico is slowly drawing her back in, reminding her of who she is and where she’s from, and just maybe leading her toward a reconciliation with both her past and her estranged daughter.

Among the praise for the novel:

“This is a startling book. It's vivid to the point of hallucination. You start to wonder where he learned all he knows. If you love Mexico, or if you fear Mexico, you will be thrown in either direction will equal vigor. This is very cool stuff indeed.”
– Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter and The Devil’s Highway

“…earnestly beat…Part bildungs-road novel, part family saga and part identity lit, Martin's third novel is all heart.”
Publishers Weekly

“…invokes both On the Road and The Catcher in the Rye…”
Texas Monthly

"Introducing your next summer beach book ... fast-paced strangeness gives the novel a fluid, cinematic feel... Witches, wild boars, crowded Mexican bars -- finally, a guidebook that tells you how to experience the real Mexico."

“ of those works that urges you to read its passages again and again....”
The Skinny Magazine

“Eric Martin is one of our most intelligent and compassionate novelists. His new novel set in a thankfully unromanticized Mexico is his finest work to date.”
– Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and The Esther Stories

“...The Virgin's Guide to Mexico is somehow still more than the sum of its parts, and somehow, against all odds, absolutely new.”
– Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby and My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up

Visit Eric B. Martin's website to read the novel's first line, its last word, and a favorite paragraph.

The Page 69 Test: Eric B. Martin's The Virgin's Guide to Mexico.

--Marshal Zeringue