A cult classic of a book from Mexico’s vital margins – stories of drag queens and Oaxacan Indian basketball players, popsicle makers and telenovela stars, migrants, farm workers, a slum boss, and a doomed tough guy.
Sam Quinones - one of the great contemporary reporters out of Mexico, the border, and the immigrant diaspora – begins True Tales with the life and death of the godfather of the Narcocorrido, Chalino Sanchez.
The book recounts a small-town lynching of two traveling salesmen and how a village of ranchers invented one of Mexico’s greatest business models – popsicle shops, which are now everywhere part of the country’s landscape.
There’s the stunning story of Zeus Garcia, a bus boy in Santa Monica and the Michael Jordan of Oaxacan Indian basketball players. And Aristeo Prado, a renegade from a tiny rancho known for poverty and wanton violence.
Along the way, Quinones lives with a colony of drag queens in the red-light district of Mazatlan as they prepare for the country’s oldest gay beauty queen contest. He spends time in Tepito, the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood and center of pirated goods in Mexico City. And with soap opera queens, chronicling how telenovelas had grown to reflect the country’s socio-political change.
He attends a Mother’s Day party put on by La Loba, the ruling-party’s boss of the Chimalhuacan slum outside Mexico City, attended by 17,000 women, who were entertained by a troop of Chippendale dancers.
Those tales and others develop a momentum of amazing storytelling that is rich in surprise, weird turns and, above all, bursts with the authentic vitality of Mexico.
True Tales From Another Mexico will give you a deeper view of America’s southern neighbor.
The Economist: “… a tireless reporter, fascinated by the stories that lie behind an ephemeral headline in the Mexican press.”
Tucson Weekly: "... a hell of a storyteller."
Los Angeles Times: "...It's hard to choose a favorite tale from this collection, so improbable and delightful are they to read."
The Nation: "... a literary manner that tends toward a condensed, almost telegraphic narrative."
Amazon readers gave it a stunning 4.8 stars:
“You'd hardly notice that it's all true if it weren't for the fact that these tales are simply too good to be fiction. Quinones has a knack for noticing the seemingly invisible.”
“This book will blow your mind. He has an innate ability to dig up and find the most fascinating stories in the most out-of-the-way places yet also show how they often are a microcosmic reflection of how Mexican society operates.”
“It's 13 years since I first read this book and I am still recommending it today for people who are sincerely interested in knowing the back stories of Mexico. … Disneyland has a back lot. If you only want the tourist view, great, spend your money and enjoy! If you want to try to understand a different culture, all of it, here are more parts.”