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Mexico Way

Mexico Way (by Chilton Williamson, Jr.; Chronicles Press, 2008)

This is a way cool novel, as several of my grand daughters would say. Chilton Williamson, Jr. who grew up in the wilds of New York City and after many missed steps found himself to be a cowboy, is one of the best writers that too few people know about.

Mexico Way is about almost redemption. The character is “Samuel Adams White, retired inspector with the United States Customs Bureau.” His wife dumps him: “I think that you are the most boring human being I’ve known ever.” And then he gets kidnapped by Mexican drug-runners because he had made a stupid mistake and offended their honor.

He knew very little about Mexico before his abduction, despite working along the border for an entire career. In that sense he is a metaphor for most Americans, and he learns the hard way.

His name is never again mentioned after page 12. He is “the inspector.” He dies, more or less, is resurrected, baptized in a hilarious and terribly painful way, gets bitten by the snake from the (really funny) garden, and through all kinds of adventures—bullfights, priests, terrible and marvelous women—almost finds his soul.

I do not want to reveal more. Mr. Williamson is one of our truly great writers. If you want to warm up to Mexico Way read his Desert Light, or his wonderful nonfiction book on immigration.

Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

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