The Cowboy Bible and Other Stories – Carlos Velázquez (Translated from the Spanish by Achy Obejas )

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

The sacrilege I’d committed two hours earlier of breaking dozens of records proved irrelevant. The Cowboy Bible didn’t respond either. I tore at it, implored it, cursed it, and still failed.

These are the words of a luchador and in this opening story “The Cowboy Bible”. In this case the bible represents an actual bible (I think). But in the next one, “Cooler Burritos” , The Cowboy Bible is actually an alcoholic husband, , fighter and burrito vendor. Organized crime gets involved, but what happens if everyone gets killed and there are no more drugs on the streets? Terrible proposition for the Cowboy Bible but it makes for a great story.

Then there’s the Country Bible from a family of fried chicken vendors, who refused to follow their fate and instead joined the Communist youth. At one point she had to disguise herself as a luchadora while entering a television game show burning illegal CDs. This is taking place right before the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre. “Wait”, you interject, “That doesn’t make sense!”

No one questions the purposeful historical incongruities. No one seems to question the existence of CDs in 1968. The example of government suppression takes precedence.

In “Notes For A New Theory For Mastering Hair” the Cowgirl Bible becomes a “bush-sculpting” artist who enters a pact with the devil.

In “The Post-Norteño Condition”, one is willing to sell his wife to the devil just to get a pair of Cowboy Bible boots.

These seven surreal stories keep the reader glued to the pages, anticipating what form the Bible will take on next. Most take place in the dangerous crime-ridden Northern Mexican state of Coahuila.

Author Carlos Velázquez takes a “no holds barred” approach in his social and political commentary. Did I understand all of it? Probably not. Did I enjoy the read? Immensely!

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