This remarkable first novel, written in clean, vivid prose by David Theis, leads the reader through an exotic labyrinth as the protagonist, Daniel, attempts to understand the irrational acts that have shaped his life. Dan, a photographer, has traveled to a teaching job in Mexico with his beautiful mixed-race wife and young daughter, hoping to find a new life following her marital infidelity and his responding botched suicide attempt. Instead, he discovers a complex, secretive world of casual violence and moral insubstantiality. When his wife leaves him for the wealthy patron he's been working for, Dan is overwhelmed with anger and guilt. His subsequent quest to regain his family and redeem his life takes him deep into the heart of Mexico City, to an eccentric pension owned by a defrocked French priest that provides sanctuary for a group of international misfits. From the moment that Dan's caged hawk survives the onslaught of an eighteen-wheeler, we realize that this is no ordinary story of marital pain and attempted reconciliation. Interior symbolism that contributes to an occasionally dream-like landscape offers a cohesive resonance to the surface narrative.
Dan's attempt to understand how the childhood experience of desertion by his father continues to threaten his own life is enriched with the vivid visual imagery of Mexico, from the aloof hawk whose beak and eyes evoke those of his lost parent to the recurrent presence of the Virgin of Guadalupe. As he pursues his quest, finally confronting el patron on his own turf, we are captivated by this compelling and ultimately unforgettable story of a young man's attempt to deserve happiness.
DAVID THEIS has written features, sports, and reviews for the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, Spin, Texas Monthly, and various regional publications. Theis is a graduate of the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. He lives in Houston with his wife and three children.
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- ID: 9780970152565
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