National borders are abstract lines that take root as physical barricades and divides. Cultural differences create people whose differences from others stem entirely from their minds. Lovers, societies and families are bound together with bonds as fragile and ephemeral as the mooring lines of great ships. And inside each person is a map or similar boundaries, frontiers, and alliances. This book turns the visible differences at the border of two nations into a mirror, a metaphor for the human condition.
When these stories first appeared in San Diego periodicals, Baja Week and Harpers, they were acclaimed as more than just "border fiction" by writer friends: critics praised the blending of Linton Robinson's craftsmanship and transparent style with Ana Maria Corona's clear-eyed witness and charming voice. Now they are collected in book format for readers outside of the border area... but within the eternal no-man's land of their humanity.
Lines and shades shift, blur and disappear as gigolos, street hustlers, gamblers, smugglers, pioneers, magicians, and members of Ms. Corona's large, border-straddling family illustrate the blending influences of food, love, family, and time. Cooking becomes another sort of metaphor in several of these pieces, sex and love take on mirror-image qualities in others. Did Mexican women and chile peppers conquer the world by being plundered and consumed? Is "Magical Realism" real? Or even magical? Is the difference between American and Mexico best seen in the difference between sheep and goats? Can a gigolo love and be loved in return? Can a matador or cockfighter love his family through bloodshed? What do illegal maids think when they are cleaning your bedroom? What do men do in those dins of iniquity?
IMAGINARY LINES will hold a special interest for anyone interest in the border culture or Mexican society and cuisine: but these narratives transcend place to create a very special body of unique literature.
Luis Urrea, Pulitzer nominee and member of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame, has said:
Of all the places where cultures meet across imaginary lines, the California/Baja California border is arguably the richest--in cultural cross-polinization, in shock, in uproar, in sheer numbers going both ways. San Diego, for example, is the only region where the numbers of undocumented crossers has not dropped, but risen. Tijuana is the most visited tourist city on earth, far outdrawing Disneyworld. |
This is not an immigration book, nor would I call it a border book. But it is a well-guided journey into an interzone where gigolos and chefs, wanderers and mothers, bad guys and dreamers swirl. Many of its insights make you feel like you've enjoyed a good meal--perhaps a fish taco and a cerveza next to the Mexican sea.