Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Both Sides of the Border

The night I arrived in Marfa, TX, Ruben Martinez and Alfredo Corchado were speaking at the Marfa Book Company.  Exhausted from the nearly nine hours it took to get there, I missed the talk, but vowed to read both of their recently published books. 

In Ruben Martinez' Desert America, he writes, "Most of all there was space, Western immensity.  The area has one of the vastest stretches of land in the Lower 48 with the fewest people and roads and human-built structures."  Martinez focuses on some of the political and demographic shifts in several different desert regions, such as Joshua Tree, CA, Velarde, NM, and my beloved Marfa, TX. 

Part personal cathartic account, part ethnographic research, and part investigative journalism, Martinez' book is a blend of approaches.  Perhaps I was just antsy to get to the chapter on Marfa (at the very end, of course), but I think I was looking for facts and found more anecdotal evidence, which can be just as powerful but did not capture my attention in this case. 

Alfredo Corchado's Midnight in Mexico, like Martinez' book, weaves in the author's personal experience.  Corchado recounts his life as a journalist in Mexico and in the U.S. focusing on border issues, and more specifically, discusses drug trafficking, and the impact of it on his life, his emotional state, and his personal safety.  

Together, these two books are an interesting introduction into the darker sides of life on the border. 

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