Sliced Iguana: Travels in Mexico

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9780140281149: Sliced Iguana: Travels in Mexico

Drawn to Mexico by her powerful curiosity about this ancient land, Isabella Tree embarks on a journey to get to the heart of its complex and colourful culture. She takes part in shamanic rituals with the Maya; revels through the night with transvestites in Juchitan; awaits spirits in an ancient graveyard on Lake Patzcuaro; joins an Indian pilgrimage in the Sierra Madre; and spends a bloodthirsty Easter among self-flagellating penitents. In showing the stark realities and ancient mysticism, the tenderness and violence to be found in modern Mexico, Isabella Tree has written the perfect evocation of this country of extremes.

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Review:

When future generations assess which foreign countries have had the greatest influence on prominent writers in the 20th century, Mexico is certain to figure prominently. Graham Greene, Jack Kerouac, Malcolm Lowry, Gabriela Mistral and Octavio Paz all found the contradictions that thrive in Mexico rich food for their creative imaginations. Yet, in spite of the fact that it is the world's 14th biggest country, and possesses an immense ethnic diversity, most of us who have never been there tend to think of Mexico as one, more or less uniform, place.

In Sliced Iguana acclaimed travel writer Isabella Tree sets out to put the record straight. Embarking on a series of journeys to different corners of the country, she experiences the many different faces of the patchwork: eating Castañeda's famous peyote cactus with the Huichol people, visiting the rebellious Indians of Chiapas, and then partying in a region which stands against the overbearing Latin machismo--Juchitán, where over two thirds of the men are transvestites.

Tree writes with an impressive erudition about the conquistadors and the indigenous peoples whose lives they shattered forever. She has a connoisseur's eye for colonial architecture, and her observations are often perceptive and thought-provoking. Although the dialogue between herself and the people she meets is a little thin, her writing is sharp and illuminating, and this is likely to be among the best travel books published this year. --Toby Green

Review:

The author's love of Mexico is there for all to see -- The Express, June 23, 2001

Tree deftly intercuts her personal experience with a fluent precis of the region's tragic past and its cultural origins -- The Guardian, June 22, 2001

Tree's second travel book confirms the promise of Islands in the Clouds: she is an accomplished traveller and a fresh and rewarding writer. -- The Sunday Times, July 2001

her talent...is remarkable. The warmth and wit of Sliced Iguana will ensure that Mexico is never underestimated by gringos again. -- The Times, July 28, 2001

wry, perceptive, intelligent and irreverently funny -- Times Literary Supplement, July 27, 2001

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