| | Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Ross will read, sign and discuss his new book El Monstruo: Dread and Redemption in Mexico City Friday, November 13 at 7 pm, kicking off his book tour in his old stomping grounds here in Humboldt County.

Ross—poet, journalist, and globetrotting troublemaker—has lived in what the Aztec-Mexicas described as "the umbilicus of the universe" since the great Mexico City earthquake of 1985 crushed out as many as 30,000 lives. Over the years, he has watched the city—El Monstruo—pick itself up, bury its dead, and come battling back. But he is filled with a gnawing unease that Mexico City's days as the most gargantuan, chaotic, crime-ridden, toxically contaminated urban stain in the Western world is doomed, that the monster he has grown to know and love through a quarter of a century of reporting on its foibles and tragedies and festering blight will be globalized into one more McCity.

Covering 4,000,000,000 years of history from the primal broth that first spewed out the monster to the Aztec-Mexica oblivion through centuries of rapine and revolution all the way to the Great Swine Flu Panic of 2009, El Monstruois a phantasmagoric retelling of the story of Mexico City, with which Ross's own history has become hopelessly entwined.

In the tradition of Suketu Mehta's Maximum City, Roberto BolaƱo's The Savage Detectives and Joseph Mitchell's Up At The Old Hotel, Ross's El Monstruo is a unique exploration of the mother of all mega-cities. Never before has anyone told from ground level the gritty, vibrant histories of this left city of 23 million faceless, fearless souls, listened to the stories of those who have not been crushed by the Monster, deconstructed the Monstruo's very monstrousness and lived to tell its secrets.

John Ross is the author of the acclaimed memoir Murdered by Capitalism, which was praised by Thomas Pynchon and chosen as a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year. Based in Mexico City for the last two decades, Ross's reporting has appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The Nation, Texas Observer, and Counterpunch, to name a few. He is the winner of an Upton Sinclair Award and an American Book Award. His books include Rebellion from the Roots, The Annexation of Mexico and the novel Tonatiuh's People.

To read an excerpt from the book, go here.

For John's most recent dispatch from Mexico in Counterpunch, go here.

John will also be presenting a book he co-edited and wrote the introduction for, IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq, the story of a teenager who was fifteen years old when she began blogging from her home city of Mosul, Iraq, in July 2004.