The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutierrez
The Short Sweet Dream of Eduardo Gutiérrez is a towering achievement by one of America’s most respected journalists. A work of conscience that travels from San Matías Cuatchatyotla, a small, dusty town in central Mexico, to the cold and wet streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, this searing exposé chronicles the life and tragic death of an undocumented worker, along with broader issues of municipal corruption and America’s deadly and controversial border policy.
In November 1999, an itinerant worker an illegal Mexican immigrant drowned in a pool of concrete at a Brooklyn construction site. His story went all but unnoticed by the local press; what made headlines was the violation-prone developer's ties to the Giuliani administration. In this penetrating account, Breslin rescues the young man from the footnotes of history. Echoing his famous interview with the gravedigger at John F. Kennedy's funeral (and, in his title, a Hemingway short story), Breslin recounts Guti rrez's time in Mexico and in America, where he "put up his young life to come to this curb and look for work to build a house for his future, and to buy book bags for his sisters in San Mat as." The veteran journalist re-creates the harsh realities of migrant labor: the dangerous and costly border crossings, the overcrowded city apartments, the daily search for jobs, the backbreaking work, the meager pay, the discrimination, the pining for home. Through Guti rrez's story, Breslin explores U.S. immigration policy, drug smuggling, political life in New York City, labor exploitation and the often corrupt and complex world of the building industry. Breslin's research is thorough, his writing seasoned and heartfelt at times nothing short of poetic. Though Guti rrez's tale can get obscured by the reportage and the myriad tangled relationships Breslin describes, in the end the narrative is loyal to its title. For it is about the dream not only of Eduardo Guti rrez, but of countless immigrants, legal and otherwise and the ugly realities.