Review: “Mexico 2009” by Edward Wells

Mexico 2009

At a first skim-read, an assumption of Wells’ Mexico 2009 as a collection of travel memoirs would be understandable and indeed fairly accurate, at least in part. To assume that this is all it has to offer, however, or to pigeon-hole this remarkable work, would be to do it a great injustice. Wells writes with a startling simplicity that is at once appealing and unsettling, drawing his readers to stare along with him at everything from a blemish on a hotel room wall to a rushing river, with a level consideration of each. In his opening poem also entitled “Mexico 2009” the tone is very much set for the rest of the book:

“these electrical wires wrap up the walls. . .
like the white extension cords of my youth. . .
crashing in a horrible mass of tangle and black electrical tape.”

There is a very strong impression throughout the pieces of a darkness in the writer’s perception, and a thinly-veiled paralleling of everything encountered with events of the past, evident here and continuing throughout the bleakness of “bright colours dulled by oil”, the “throbbing of the world”. There is a prominent implication that he is here in this place, seeking the contrast in the culture and something all new, as a form of escapism and an attempt to start afresh in a world in which he can be invisible:

“the party next door is ignorant of me,
or at least not considering me in their actions (I hope)”.

The hints of recovery in the narration too as the book progresses are notable and moving, glimpses of optimism sparking throughout the texts with a refreshing contrast to much of the darker descriptions throughout:

“And this morning, people still sing in the courtyard of the apartment.
I finished eating the calabaza negra on a tortilla.
It isn’t raining.”

A constant theme of turmoil runs frenziedly throughout, in the juxtapositioning of nondescript views and quiet rooms with dramatic scenes of death and destruction, the striking structural devices, unfinished short stories, untitled poetry and missing words, yet to be filled at some later date of clearer mind. Everything about this text reflects the whirling of emotions within the narration, the search for a sense of clarity, on a journey towards a time of deeper understanding. To give away too much of this book would be to detract from its quite striking intrigue; however, it would suffice to say that this is certainly a journey worth taking–a deeply unusual collection from a very interesting writer, which goes on to linger long beyond its closing lines.

Mexico 2009 is published by Full Of Crow, and is freely avaliable online, here.

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Laura McDonald lives and writes in Stirling, Scotland, and can be found at twitter.com/lauracmcdonald.