Taibo, whose own crime novels chronicle absurdity and brutality in Mexico, takes Marlowe south of the border as a kind of double, following a mysterious heir for reasons unspecified, and if that reminds you of The Long Goodbye and Terry Lennox, you're on the right track. Taibo pays tribute to that novel in a short afterword:
"The first Spanish edition of The Long Goodbye appeared in 1973. I read it three times. I added it to what I had learned from Simenon, Dürrenmatt, Hammett, and Le Carre, and was certain that crime literature offered me the best possible scenario for the stories I wanted to tell."Taibo's own novels turned out quite different, he goes on,
"But no doubt Chandler was there; in stories built on dialogue and characters and atmospheres, rather than anecdotes, but which still managed to tell a story."Taibo's story here, "The Deepest South," takes that aspect of Chandler and builds from it a travelogue full of Mexican vistas, odd encounters, and enigmatic dialogue. It reads a bit like a Wim Wenders road movie, full of pungent, wistful observations, of which this is just one:
"Mexicali at the time was a way station for refugees from all over Europe who were seeking permission to enter the United States. It had been, and probably still is, the trampoline for thousands of Mexicans who illegally cross the border to make themselves a few dollars in the north. Above all, it was a languid city; dirt was everywhere; clouds of dust tried to cover the poor tracks of progress and return the city to its ancient desert condition. It was a city where you heard songs in many languages, songs that were almost always melancholy."
© Peter Rozovsky 2010