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My 10 favorite classics of Mexican literature and film...

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

But first a very short story from our sponsors (me).

Ater diving headlong into our Mexican adventure (read The Mexico Diaries for the full story in all of its gory glory) Holly & I purchased a massive Dodge 250 Ram pickup truck with a slide-in camper. The camper, outfitted with propane refrigerator and other amenities, would provide all the creature comforts we would need for the three months that we’d carved out to be in Mexico. We also found a bumper sticker we liked, and bought to complete the package. The sticker, a large ten inch white diamond, had nothing on it but the name of one of our favorite Mexican Movies “Y Tu Mamá Tambien”.

“I love that movie” I said to Holly when I saw it for sale in a novelty store.

“Yeah, me too. It’ll be great on the back of the camper” she agreed.

With the sticker displaying our sophisticated knowledge of Spanish and Mexican film culture, we drove that rig five thousand miles across the U.S. and Mexico, all around our new Mayto community for several months, and another several thousand miles exploring other parts of the country.

Finally, a Mexican friend took pity on us and spoke up:

“Oh, by the way,” he mentioned nonchalantly,“you might want to think about taking that bumper sticker off your truck”.

“Oh? What’s the matter with it? It’s a great movie,” I replied.

Chuckling, he responded, "I don't know anything about the movie, hardly ever get to see any, but that’s a common dicho (saying) down here. It means “Fuck you… (pause) …and your mother too. Those are generally considered to be fighting words.


Following is a short list of my favorite books and movies set in Mexico ranging from the sublime to "la redícula". Hmmm, "Película Redícula". Guess I'll save that for another post...

1) Y Tu Mamá También (film) - Movie starring the incomparable Gael Garcia Bernal. Two spoiled chilango boys and an attractive older woman set out on a road trip

2) The Treasure of The Sierra Madre (novel + film) - Also check out The Jungle Novels, a series of seven books, and numerous other masterworks about pre-revolutionary Mexico by the enigmatic B. Traven.

3) God's Middle Finger (non-fiction) - The harrowing story of a gringo journalist sticking his nose in where he shouldn't. Strap in!

4) La Ley de Herodes (Herod's Law - film) - One of the most creative, raw and scorchingly sexy critiques of Mexican society ever!

5) Mexico in Mind - A superb anthology of essays and short stories by numerous well known authors such as John Steinbeck, D.H. Lawrence, Jack Kerouac, Salman Rusdie, Tennessee William, Ray Bradbury, Sandra Cisneros, and others.

6) Old Man & the Sea / The Pearl - Two runners up for tear jerker stories set in Mexico by the master, John Steinbeck.

7) The Labyrinth of Solitude (non-fiction) - Ubër dense but beautiful exploration of Mexican culture by Pulitzer Prize winner Octavio Paz.

8) All the Pretty Horses - The first book in Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy. Winner of the the Nation Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award, this raw and eloquent coming-of-age story is one o fly favorite books ever.

9) The Three Burials of Malquiades Estrada (movie) - This superb neo-Western drama starring Tommy Lee Jones sums up border tensions and much of what's wrong and right about Mexico and America's tortured relationship. One of my favorite films.

10) Coco (animated movie) - Want to experience 'Day of the Dead' without Patzcauro's hideous traffic? Then this one's for you... (speaking of "Película Redícula"!)

And a few more that are still on my reading list:

1) The Years with Laura Díaz by Carlos Fuentes - considered an epic, pulitzer contender.

2) Under the Volcano - day-in-the-life story by Malcolm Lowry.

3) The Guilty: SoriesJuan Villoro

4) Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

Have other recommendations to share? I'd love to hear from you!


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