The Mex­i­can Fly­boy

Al­fredo Vea

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction - ANNA CALL

The Univer­sity of Ok­la­homa Press Soft­cover $19.95 (384pp) 978-0-8061-8703-7

Any­one who en­joys mag­i­cal re­al­ism would be com­mit­ting a crime by skip­ping this re­mark­able piece of work.

Dream­like and fan­tas­ti­cal, yet strangely earnest, Al­fredo Vea’s The Mex­i­can Fly­boy is a mag­i­cal re­al­ist tour de force.

Si­mon Ve­gas is a self-made man with a dream: end hu­man cru­elty and suf­fer­ing. As a sol­dier, he en­coun­ters the mysterious an­tikythera de­vice, in­vented by Archimedes for the pur­pose of time travel, steals it, and em­barks upon a se­ries of sur­real jour­neys through his­tory … or, per­haps, through his own tor­tured past. All the while, he strug­gles to un­der­stand cru­elty, to in­di­vid­u­ally right every wrong ever per­pe­trated, and to re­solve his own tragedy-marked past.

The Mex­i­can Fly­boy is both strange and beau­ti­ful, em­body­ing the best of mag­i­cal re­al­ism and lit­er­ary fic­tion. In fact, Si­mon’s time ma­chine is lit­er­ally magic: a man­i­fes­ta­tion of his child­hood ob­ses­sion with magic and magic-based su­per­heroes. The book openly em­braces an al­most child­like form of mag­i­cal think­ing, which adroitly re­flects Si­mon’s early trauma and makes his char­ac­ter arc all the more sat­is­fy­ing at its con­clu­sion. At the same time, the col­or­ful, well-fleshed-out pe­riph­eral char­ac­ters are gen­er­ally well-rooted in real­ity. They pro­vide an an­chor to ob­jec­tiv­ity that re­as­sures us that Si­mon isn’t com­pletely crazy, that his quest may be true, at least in part.

The book apes the style and struc­ture of pre-code comic books bril­liantly, evok­ing a lit­er­ary whirl­wind of sud­den, fan­tas­tic deeds and abrupt plot de­vel­op­ments. At first, this over-the-top style is be­wil­der­ing. Yet Vea never loses the thread of the story, and the plot pro­gresses clearly, never aban­don­ing the au­di­ence. Though rem­i­nis­cent of the style of Gabriel Gar­cia Mar­quez, this book is dis­tinct and unique, far more in­vested in ob­jec­tive real­ity than Mar­quez’s world of lay­ered metaphors.

The Mex­i­can Fly­boy is a book about which longer, more com­pli­cated analy­ses could—and should—be writ­ten. It is more an ex­pe­ri­ence than a book, a piece of lit­er­a­ture that grabs and trans­ports. In fact, it is not to be missed, and any­one who en­joys mag­i­cal re­al­ism would be com­mit­ting a crime by skip­ping this re­mark­able piece of work.

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