Sleeping With Pancho Villa: A Novel

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9780870815065: Sleeping With Pancho Villa: A Novel
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When the gringo Jake Hart meets the seductive Marta Martinez in a dark cantina, she tells him of discovering her fiance's body decomposing in his own bath. While some in the Mexican pueblito believe it was she who did him in, suspicion soon falls on Jake - and even on his mad artist friend, Jordan, and a host of others who might have wanted to see the handsome sculptor dead. But few - not even Marta - mourn his passing nor ultimately care who murdered him. With this indifferently received homicide as a backdrop, Skwiot brings his fictional Mexican pueblito and all of its colorful inhabitants to life. Along with Jake, Marta, and Jordan, this cast includes local Revolutionary Party leader Don Pablo Martinez, who desperately needs his dentures repaired for politics to continue as usual; the ghost-rousing curandera Amelia; the gigolo Marcos, who preys on American tourists; and the philandering chief of police Munoz, who impregnates a bar maid and is turned out by his wife to sleep in his office under a portrait of Pancho Villa.

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About the Author:

Rick Skwiot is also the author of Flesh, which won the Hemingway First Novel Award, and the critically acclaimed memoir Christmas at Long Lake: A Childhood Memory. He also works as a freelance writer and journalist.

Review:

From Library Journal Skwiot, who won the Hemingway First Novel Prize for Flesh (Eaton Street, 1998), here brings us life in a Mexican border town, with a collection of residents, visitors, and events from their lives laid out beautifully in a novel that was runner-up for the 1996 Willa Cather Fiction Award. A Vietnam veteran, a policeman in this sleepy town, has two wives with children on either side of the border and manages to maintain relationships with both. Meanwhile, Jake, an American writer, falls in love with the beautiful Mexican Marta. When Marta's fiance, Pancho, is murdered, and an American woman in love with Jake commits suicide, Marta and Jake share love and are haunted by the two frustrated ghosts. The haunting can only end when the spirits are wed by a priest. Skwiot manages to organize these and other individuals and plots into a skillfully written portrait of an entire community. Highly recommended.Carolyn Ellis Gonzalez, Univ. of Texas at San Antonio Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --Library Journal

From Publishers Weekly Skwiot's Chandleresque offering invigorates a familiar tale of murder and small-town political intrigue by playing it out against a thoughtfully layered backdrop of Mexican culture. Jake, an American drifter in an unnamed Mexican town, becomes a suspect in the murder of a local sculptor, Pancho. The search for the true culprit unearths the town's incestuous politics, and its economic tensions. Jake, meanwhile, has a fling with the seductive but virtuous Marta, Pancho's fiancee, despite unnerving visits from Pancho's ghost. Along the book's sleepy path we meet Jordan Freeman, a semideranged African American painter, as well as Hector Munoz, a driven but unsettled chief of police who balances his allegiance to the law with duties to two separate families. The murderer's identity comes as no surprise, since Skwiot introduces few reasonable suspects. He gives his story an impressively crafted, labyrinthine setting, but some clumsy writing, overheated subplots and cliched sex scenes detract from the book's cohesion. But Jake's adventure is gripping nonetheless, largely because Skwiot does not hide its more gruesome sides and handles scenes of grotesque violence with admirable restraint. Snappy and often funny dialogue keeps the novel and its characters moving through the crumbling houses of Skwiot's town. (Dec.) FYI: Skwiot's novel Flesh won the Hemingway First Novel Prize and will be issued by Eaton Street Press. Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --Publishers Weekly

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