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  • kjoannerixon

Coyote Songs

It would be easy to compare Iglesias to Yuri Herrera and other modern Mexican writers who use magical realism to visit the borderlands and walk among the ghosts y los carteles but I think the first writer who comes to my mind is actually Tommy Orange. Like Orange's THERE, THERE, Iglesias' COYOTE SONGS is a mosaic novel about violence, about the small, ordinary people who commit violent acts and who have violence done to them without remorse. It's about vengeance, and blood, and the hunger for destruction that haunts the border--and about the distance the thirst for revenge can, and can't, carry you.

COYOTE SONGS is billed by its publisher as a 'barrio noir', and there's an instinct I have to call it a horror novel, although I don't know if that's truly the right label to slap on it. The book has chaos and gunfights, the prison industrial complex and late-stage capitalism, performance art and body horror, slime monsters that crawl out of a woman and back into her and graphic depiction of mass death due to being trapped inside a shipping container in the Sonoran Desert sun. There's blood, and brain matter, and crushing sorrow. But there is also La Virgen, bright and pure, a guide out of the dark, out of cycles of violence...

I'm out of practice at writing book reviews, maybe. There's a lot to be said about COYOTE SONGS--probably someone could write entire academic papers on the portrayal of mothers and parenting in Iglesias' book, and entire other papers on the code switching between English and Spanish (which, if you see that this book is bilingual and hesitate to read it because you only speak English, don't worry--you'll be fine. The Spanish may be confusing, and you definitely get more out of the book if you understand it, but even without that layer the book is worth it). I guess I'm not going to be the one to write those academic papers, though, because I'm still breathlessly contemplating the short, sharp shock of reading the book in one sitting.


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