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Un hilito de sangre.

Leon Rosas Bernal is one of the most irritating, selfish, manipulative, cruel, endearing, funny, pathetic characters you'll ever meet and Eusebio Ruvalcaba, winner of last year's Augustin Yanez Prize for Fiction, has produced one of the most touching and insightful coming-of-age stories to emerge from Latin America.

Sex-obsessed and totally egocentric, Ruvalcaba's thirteen-year-old protagonist struts his stuff with brass and braggadocio in his middle-class neighborhood of Mexico City. His conquests, he tells us, are many and his looks are divine. He compares himself with Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise and a host of other U.S. screen idols. He occasionally turns himself into James Bond, hot car and all, and goes racing down the street. He also likes to be Robin Hood. His teenage jargon is full of sass and pizzazz and special tricks that he identifies by acronyms and abbreviations: PET = Piensa En Ti (Think of yourself |first~); DV = Darse Valor (Be Brave); FCA = Fingir Cara de Asustado (Pretend to be Scared). According to Leon, his father is a bully; his mother, a neurotic; his sister, a spoiled brat; his teachers, complete nerds. However, Leon is prone to exaggeration and often tells outright lies.

The love of Leon's life is Osbelia, who is vacationing in Guadalajara. According to leon, he and Osbelia are having a hot affair (which later turns out to be not so hot and not even an affair.) Unable to bear the separation, Leon catches a bus to Guadalajara. His adventures along the way are pretty incredible. First he is abducted by a man who lures him out of the bus line by convincing him to take care of a blind girl, then tries to dupe him into becoming a petty thief. Next he is befriended by a Chinese restaurant manager who takes him to a brothel. However, before Leon can accomplish what he set out to do, is his new friend is shot. He dies in Leon's arms, but not without first handing the boy a wad of money. Leon then takes a plane to Guadalajara, where he meets not only the longed-for Osbelia, but also a kindly taxi driver who also takes him to a brothel--and this time the visit is a success. It turns out that the taxi driver has a son who is gravely ill, which allows Leon to perform an act of benevolence worthy of Robin Hood--and to prove, at last, that he is on the road to maturity. Now, Leon is ready to return home and face his parents. (After all, he has been gone for more than a day.)

Through Leon's adventures--real and imaginary--Ruvalcaba gives the reader a glimpse not only into the adolescent mind, but also into Mexican society. Leon's fascination with the English language and with Hollywood stars are a testimony to the influence of American music and cinema in Mexico. His descriptions of the bus terminal, the streets, the stores, his aunt's house, and his uncle's pornographic magazines all provide insight into the complexities of Mexican life--from class stratification to growing materialism. And his slang is proof of the existence in Mexico at the late twentieth-century invention: the teenager--with his own language, values and rules.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Organization of American States
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Mujica, Barbara
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:528
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