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MEXICO CITY, with some 20 million inhabitants, is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. Enormous growth, raging crime, and tumultuous politics have also made it one of the most feared and misunderstood. Yet in the past decade, the city has become a hot spot for international business, fashion, and art, and a magnet for thrill-seeking expats from around the world.
In 2002, Daniel Hernandez traveled to Mexico City, searching for his cultural roots. He encountered a city both chaotic and intoxicating, both underdeveloped and hypermodern. In 2007, after quitting a job, he moved back. With vivid, intimate storytelling, Hernandez visits slums populated by ex-punks; glittering, drug-fueled fashion parties; and pseudo-native rituals catering to new-age Mexicans. He takes readers into the world of youth subcultures, in a city where punk and emo stand for a whole way of life—and sometimes lead to rumbles on the streets.
Surrounded by volcanoes, earthquake-prone, and shrouded in smog, the city that Hernandez lovingly chronicles is a place of astounding manifestations of danger, desire, humor, and beauty, a surreal landscape of “cosmic violence.” For those who care about one of the most electrifying cities on the planet, “Down & Delirious in Mexico City is essential reading” (David Lida, author of First Stop in the New World).
In 2002, just out of U.C. Berkeley, Hernandez headed to Mexico City to trace his cultural roots. Five years later, he returned there as a journalist and immersed himself in the bewildering subcultures of the western hemisphere's largest city. His explorations take him from fashion runways and cocaine after-parties, the street brawls of punk and emo kids, to the teeming festival of Mexico's national icon, the Virgin of Guadalupe. As Hernandez wanders the labyrinths of the city, he also investigates his own uncertain identity as the American-born child of Mexican parents. Hernandez covers a lot of ground in his study of the city, maybe too much. Skimming from scene to scene, he doesn't settle anywhere long enough to write with an insider's perspective. Because of this, the observations rarely transcend the journalistic generalities found in the average feature story. Hernandez's personal quest, which could have centered the book, never becomes compelling. While informative, his book often reads like a bulked up tour guide.