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by Glen Worthey | Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Santo Gordo: A Killing in Oaxaca

Our longtime SUL colleague Charles Kerns (an Academic Computing veteran, and current website redesign consultant) has recently published his first (but we hope not his last!) novel, Santo Gordo: A Killing in Oaxaca.

Charles's novel is, on its face, a sort of political thriller and murder mystery--but not only! It's also an appreciative (and deliciously foodie) travelogue through the streets of Oaxaca, and a savvy portrait of ex-pat life there. Even more remarkably, Charles's sensitive portrayal of Oaxacans from an array of political and social classes reveals some of the intense beauty and searing tragedy of contemporary Mexico, and of its deeply interconnected neighbor to the north (that would, of course, be us).

One perceptive reader fittingly introduces the main character Robert Evans as being "as portly as Hercule Poirot, as sardonic as Philip Marlowe, ambl[ing] through a locale as fascinating as Guido Brunetti’s Venice." Evans is both blessed and cursed not only by fortune and chance, but also by his world-weary reluctance to "get involved" and by a fundamental big-heartedness that he tries in vain to suppress.

I am not generally fond of mysteries, and confess to being often skeptical of gringo accounts of Mexican life--yet I loved reading Charles's book, and so will you: it's perceptive, caring, and just plain fun. You can find out more about it on his Santo Gordo blog, http://santogordo.blogspot.com/.

Charles will give a public reading from his novel this Saturday, August 25th, at 2:00 PM at Harbor Books, 270 Capistrano Road, in Half Moon Bay.

Congratulations to Charles--and happy reading to all you who take the Santo Gordo plunge!

Comments

We were expats in Oaxaca for twelve years. The lives he depicted are nothing like the lives of the expats we knew, who wre artists, writers, anthropologists, musicians, and retired folks living quietly within their communities. . Those who helped local people and institutions did so with sensitivity and were welcomed by the locals, unlike tyhe idiots he portrayed.. Also, the writing is terrible. Very amateurish.
Sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy Charles's novel -- but many of us certainly did, and we look forward to his next one!

It's important to remember that a fictional character's opinions aren't necessarily the same as those of its author. And those of us who have lived abroad know very well the wide variety of fellow ex-pats: some noble and sensitive, some naive and clueless, and others, sadly, very much in the "ugly American" mold. I personally respect Charles's choice to depict the range of such characters in his novel.

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