Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

This is going to be a short one today, and that’s mostly because this is essentially a question in the form of a blog (but also because I promised myself I wasn’t going to write reviews savaging things I didn’t like anymore). And this isn’t a dig, it’s not a passive aggressive way for me to say mean things while pretending like I’m only interested in learning. I genuinely want you to tell me.

Why do people love this book so much?

This book has so much positive buzz about it, so many people I respect have given it sterling reviews and Francisco Goldman (who wrote the phenomenal, beautiful, heartbreaking Say Her Name) has a little blurb on the front calling Yuri Herrera Mexico’s greatest novelist, and…why? What am I missing here? I can’t figure it out.
The story is interesting. I’m definitely down for a close, intimate account of people crossing the American-Mexican border and all that entails. Or an examination of what separates us, or what happens when we separate ourselves, when we tell ourselves that on this side of the line we’re this, and on the other side they’re that. And I feel like this novella touched on it a bit, but didn’t dip too far beneath the surface of it, didn’t really explore it. Maybe it was something to do with its length, or that translating a novel while keeping it’s original connotations and tones and metaphors can be really difficult, or maybe I just totally missed something. Either way the writing felt really stiff to me, and the whole thing came across as a little flat and emotionless, a little grey.
Seriously though, if you’ve got some insight into why people love this so much, get at me. I’ve got a decent amount of confidence in my abilities as a critical reader, but it’s possible I just missed the point completely, and if I did I want to know. I’m genuinely curious.

That’s all for now!

VBR

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