The Magic Curtain: The Mexican-American Border in Fiction, by Thomas Torrans

By Thomas Torrans

Borderlands—especially the United States-Mexico borderland—have lengthy served as backgrounds for depicting social instability, in keeping with Thomas Torrans. And borders—or magic curtains—have easily been shaped into unique backdrops for movies, novels, ballads, and stories within which characters shift simply from one tradition to a different. The protagonists are both at domestic in either societies, or, at worst, at domestic in neither.

True border novels shape a literature that merits a class all its personal. there's an asymmetric quality—a coarseness occasionally combined with polish, working the gamut of emotion from the tragic to the comic.

One contemporary fictional try and make the most the border's ancient elements is Fandango by way of Ron McCoy (1984), whereas one of many older efforts is that of the early twentieth-century novelist Will Levington convenience in Somewhere South in Sonora (1925). Border fiction is frequently simply a part of a bigger entire and a few books, no matter if fiction or nonfiction, seldom if ever pass the mystical line among the 2 cultures. they continue to be, for the main half, totally founded in both Mexico or the U.S., reminiscent of J. Frank Dobie’s very Texan A Vaquero of the comb Country or his custom-made account of his equestrian travels in northern Mexico, first released as Tongues of the Monte and later as The Mexico I Like.

Film epitomizes the get away around the magic curtain. The Getaway (based at the novel by means of Jim Thompson) is exemplary. Carol and document (Ali McGraw and Steve McQueen) not just deal with the good get away with a satchel choked with stolen funds, they do it by way of fleeing to the border after an extended brush with demise. Filmmakers have carved video clips out of different novels. B. Traven’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Glendon Swarthout’s They got here to Cordura are compelling seems to be on the large and difficult nation that the border stitches together.

Fortunately, corridos—the voice of the people—are now not useless. They exist a ways afield, from the ballads created round the lifestyles and paintings of California’s César Chávez and the United Farm staff of the US stream to the older songs. a variety of ballads have fun incidents befalling these operating afoul of the law—from bandits to smugglers, huge landholders, Texas Rangers, and, unavoidably, livestock buyers and rustlers. nonetheless others recount the derring-do of such as soon as famous figures as Juan Cortina (the “Red Robber of the Rio Grande”) and Catarino Garza, dreamers of misplaced explanations and proponents of self sufficient border republics. Corridos additionally faithfully mirror the most recent developments—technology and maquiladoras, for example.

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Example text

Not only did they deal with incidents and figures peculiarly Castillian, they were also Moorish in scope as well. Indeed, they had much to say about counts and kings of an alien order and they reached across seven hundred years of religious conflict between Christians and Muslims in the land that had become Spain. Romanceros, creators of such lyrics, delighted in embroidering themes of treachery and tragedy, seduction and love, the cultural as well as the color line between the dark-skinned Islamic Moors, the Saracenic invaders of Spain and their descendants who were to remain there for seven centuries, and the fairer Christian Iberians.

Se hicieron de los caballos De carabinas y sillas, Gritaban los Pronunciados, —¡Esto lo cargan a Díaz! — 48 The Arbiter of Moral Codes Ballad of the Insurrectionists That day, the tenth of December, Oh, what a remarkable date! On the ranch of Las Tortillas, Seven met death as their fate. ” Then, on the morning of Sunday, With everything quiet as a tomb, Mounted men, off in the distance, Riding furiously, there in the gloom. ” They shouted in thundering tone. Cried out Commander Salinas: “Today they’ll get more than they want!

First taken to task, in a manner of praising with faint damns, are the young women of Nacozari, one of the state’s principal towns: 39 t h e m ag i c c u r t a i n Las muchachas de Nacozari son altas y delgaditas; pero son mas pedigüeñas que las ánimas banditas. The girls of Nacozari Are lissomly tall and slight, But they beggar for more attention Than the vesper bells at night. The battle of the sexes, of course, is traditionally part of the general theme and baggage of corridos. And, rather traditionally, too, if a compliment is rendered on the one hand, then with the other it is taken away.

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