Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush by Luis Alberto Urrea and Christopher Cardinale

Mr. Mendoza is an elderly graffiti artist in the Mexican town of El Rosario. Unlike the old women who merely mutter their displeasure at immoral behaviours, Mr. Mendoza takes action, paintbrush in hand. His wry wit might pop up anywhere. On the sign into town, for example, "No intelligent life for 100 kilometers." The tale centers on an incident where two teenage boys get their comeuppance when they were caught spying on some young women bathing in the river.

The story was originally published in Urrea's Six Kinds of Sky collection. The imagined town, Rosario, is almost a character in itself. It is the same setting as that in Urrea's latest novel, Into the Beautiful North.

On top of a great story with an element of magic realism, this book has breathtaking art by Christopher Cardinale. It looks like woodcut printing; lots of black with rich greens, blues and ochre shades. Cardinale is known for his murals and his social activism. His art is absolutely perfect for the timeless feel of this story.

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