Originally published at LatinHeat. Republished by permission.
By Juan Andr?®s Bueno
Most of us who left Mexico at an early age and have become integral parts of this amazing melting pot tend to view the old country through a nostalgic, wistful looking glass that tends to deform the physical reality of today. I thus assumed that Vivir So??ando would be yet another homesick yearning for a mythical paradise that for some unknown reason was left behind in the barren mountains of Oaxaca or the desert in Zacatecas.
To my satisfying surprise, I was granted the reading of a most pleasant journey depicting with precise accuracy and incisive scrutiny a present day Mexico City as well as the provincial cities of C??rdoba and Veracruz, comparing his idyllic remembrances to today's crude reality and its adversity. Enrique Herrera travels through time and space intertwining thoughts and images in a convincing form of magic realism in which the present mingles with the past both remote and immediate, as well as with the absurd and the farcical; personages that transmigrate and transform, objects that like thoughts appear and disappear, migrating souls that are left to the reader's interpretation.
Vivir So??ando makes an enjoyable, laid-back, read filled with captivating imagery and pleasant, yet poignantly sarcastic, wit and humor. The style is flowing and none pretentious in a tale that left this reader fancying a book to follow, perhaps, Vivir Despierto in which Enrique Herrera could clue us in as to what caused a student at the Instituto Polit?®cnico to leave Mexico in 1968, during the dirty war; what misty cravings, in a city ranked fourth in the world of gourmet dining, motivates him to choose chain restaurants such as Sanborn's and Vips rather than El Cardenal or El Danubio that offer a magnificent culinary experience. Why does he start his story quoting an Argentine song? Why Gardel and not Jose Alfredo or Tata Nacho? I would also like to know why Enrique Herrera travels to Veracruz and not Michoac?ín or the Yucat?ín peninsula; did he in his childhood take that magnificent train ride through the mystic sierras of Puebla on his way to C??rdoba and the captivating port city? A train that exists no more, like the extended family that he has forgotten or the Mexico City that was.
So many and interesting situations and characters make the book a great companion during a long bus ride or a rainy afternoon. However, it is perhaps due to its captivating essence that Vivir So??ando though it is very much worth reading, left me with more questions than answers and, I reiterate, a genuine desire to read Enrique Herrera's next book.
Author Enrique Herrera
Enrique Herrera, since graduating from Mexico's National Polytechnic Institute, has spent his adult life in the United States. He continued his studies at San Jose City College, San Jose State University, and the University of California Los Angeles. He has worked as a quantitative and qualitative researcher for national and international organizations such as the U.S. Census Bureau, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. His studies have produced numerous reports on social and educational issues in both Spanish and English. His bi-national experience has led him to believe that many immigrants are tugged to return to their country of origin by an aspiration relive memories with people they keep close to their hearts. This is reflected in his creative writing. Enrique Herrera resides with his wife, Dolores Herrera, four children and three grandchildren in Murrieta, California.
Juan Andr?®s Bueno is a filmmaker and writer, known for his award-winning Amorous Pancho Villa (2013), La monta??a del diablo (1975), and Los caciques (1975). Born in Mexico and raised in Beverly Hills, California, Bueno's career started in the late 1960's where he worked on such iconic shows as The Addams Family, The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. Since 1967, he has been a member of local 776 of the IASTE Film Editors Union. In Mexico up until ten years ago, Bueno taught screenwriting and filmmaking. Juan Andr?®s Bueno knows Mexico as if he had never left.