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On Mexican Time


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In 1985, novelist and travel writer Cohan (Canary; Secular and Sacred) and his wife, Masako, traveled on a whim to the colorful Mexican town of San Miguel de Allende, where fireworks sputter from wooden towers on feast days, "mariachi singers' plangent howls" season the air, "cats roam the rooftops unimpeded" and "history, religion and ceremony soften the effects of change." Lured back for repeated visits, the Cohans finally made their home there. Casual yet studied in tone, this ode to Cohan's adopted town and nation devotes much space to San Miguel's legends, ancient and modern. The local nunnery's founder, who turned worms into butterflies, may be more fiction than fact. Cohan's acquaintance Ren‚, though, is real enough: the story of the murder that the locals believe he committed dominates a disturbing chapter called "The Man Who Was Killed Twice." Hospitality vies with inefficiency to make Cohan's Mexico a place of surprising ease and random hazards: "Mexican buses are reliable, cheap, and safe," but Mexican highway patrolmen demand bribes or worse; a friend of Cohan's dies when a hospital can't get her blood type. The Mexican day seems to last longer, and "nothing happens between two and four." Cohan also presents less serious downsides to his calmer Mexican lifestyle, explaining why it took him so long to get a verandah built on his 250-year-old house. The last few years have seen San Miguel become a destination for hip tourists: Cohan's pleasant account of its former obscurity may send his fans to further crowd its streets. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

In 1985, fiction writer Cohan and his wife fled the sterility of Los Angeles to visit the town of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. They fell in love with the place and its people and decided to make their home there. They bought and restored a house, made new friends, and developed new tastes and habits. Not a book on Mexico, this is instead an engaging story of two creative people and how they find happiness as expatriates. Cohan's style is readable, entertaining, and light. Recommended for public libraries.ÄGwen Gregory, New Mexico State Univ. Lib., Las Cruces Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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