In 2012, writing for the New York Times, Kyle Jarrard reflected on the life and literary contributions of Carlos Fuentes shortly after the author’s death in May. The crux of this article considered how Fuentes wrote about the border and he described its significance for Mexico and the United States as a liminal space of personal interaction, violence, and escape. As Jarrard described it, Fuentes wrote about the “ghosts” of the region and the stories they carried about a place on the periphery of the nation-state:
But it is not a romantic sojourn: He hits hard at both Mexico and the United States for letting the borderland sink into hell, and gets grief for it, of course, from the North, where they somehow doubt his convictions. “When I satire Mexico I’m a great satirist. When I poke fun at the United States, I’m a mean, clichéd caricaturist. It is curious that one should always get pallid anemic WASPs as critics.”
Those aren’t the words of a man who doesn’t believe entirely in all he writes, of the power of the people on his pages, of their absolute reality: They are you and me, and there is no space between them and us.
This is the vicarious joy Carlos produced: A love for the tragic fact of life here and now, for the auténtico, and for the unending voyage through history to see again that so much never changes. Generals or their progeny will always occupy the president’s office; gringos will always come over the border, drink and then go off into the perilous night in search of finality.
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