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My Two Mexicos
A number of readers of my novel Mexico Way, published a couple of months ago by
Chronicles Press, apparently expected to find in it a
I can't blame them. The
This confusion, though understandable, suggests a
failure to appreciate the distinctions between the
literary and political, or the imaginative and
rhetorical. As a traveler and a novelist, I have quite
different responses to
I personally see no contradiction here. Advocates of immigration restriction are regularly attacked for being "anti-immigrant", "anti-Mexican", and "racist". Of course, there is no connection, except in the minds of cynical ethnic politicians and liberal ideologues. The fact that I do not wish to see my country overrun by an alien people from the south does not mean that I am "against" them, or anybody.
Truth be told, I have a fondness for Mexico and Mexicans, and have had for at least as long as I have been writing on the subject of Mexican immigration. Indeed, there is much in Mexican society and its people that I find superior to modern American society and to modern Americans.
Among them is that existential quality of irreducible reality, of an unflinching recognition of the human condition in respect of its relation to both the natural and the supernatural worlds, that we Americans too once had, but have since lost. It is this quality that I've attempted to realize in my book—preceded of course by such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Graham Greene, Eugene Manlove Rhodes, Charles Bowden, and Cormac McCarthy.
recounts the grueling adventures of a naïve and
white-bread American male who arrives at a belated
coming-of-age through a terrifying ordeal that exposes
him, in his quest for physical survival, not only to the
rigors of nature, but also to the existence of the
power of evil—and of good. [Read
here.] On another level, the novel is a
billet doux addressed to the people of
It is by no means, however, an apology for my views regarding Mexican immigration. The two attitudes are entirely separate, and need to be understood as such.
I began writing
Sixty-five miles south of
Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay
The typed first draft of the novel was 183 pages long.
(The printed book comes to 130 pages.) I brought it
back, half-completed, with me to
No takers; not even, as I recall, a response, as is commonplace in publishing nowadays.
Meanwhile, I began writing my
Fleming expressed enthusiasm for
I remained pleased with the book, but went on to write
others, each of which Tony circulated in turn in
No go. One publishing house, which had produced an earlier novel of mine, stonewalled him for over a year, and then tried to convince him they'd never received the book.
Meanwhile, Tom Fleming and I traveled by bus together from Ciudad Juárez to Ciudad Chihuahua on a fact-finding trip related to the preparation of Immigration and the American Future, edited by me and published by the Rockford Institute last year.
We had a fine time in northern
On the bus back to Juárez, I reminded Tom of the
Mexico Way manuscript and suggested that, since he'd
become so interested in
Today, a well-known director is interested in making a film from the book. We have our fingers crossed.
I've attempted to put everything I know about
Chilton Williamson Jr. [email
him] is an editor and columnist for
Magazine, where he writes The Hundredth .