Page 9


week after his death, articles still appear daily lamenting Mexico’s loss. But his work had apparently ended many years ago, and his death would only seem to make that official. But it didn’t even do that. If ever a writer has lived on after death, it is Juan Rulfo. In what seems almost a type of anima en pena, the spirit of Rulfo’s work still walks the earth, grieved by its early creative death. The speculation now is whether or not La Cordillera, finally free of its author’s overly meticulous eye \(according to legend, at least, any number of the stories from Llano en Llamas were rescued from the trash by friends of the Some say he only claimed he was writing to keep the critics off his back, but most of his fellow writers believe the next Rulfo novel may yet appear. WHILE THE tributes poured in from all over Europe and Latin America Borges: “One of the 100 most important works of all literature.” Grass: “The father of modern literature.” praise from the U.S. was quite conspicuous in its absence. Why Rulfo never got the recognition here of a Borges or Garcia Marquez is a perhaps unanswerable question. Maybe the scarcity of his production did hurt him here. And the English translation of Pedro Pdramo did, at least for me, lose much of the transparency and poetry of Rulfo’s prose. But perhaps the main reason lies in Rulfo’s very Mexican attitude toward death. This attitude more clearly divides the two cultures than any river does the two countries. Death and life, in no particular order, are irreversibly fused in both Mexico and Pedro Pciramo, with results that may be disconcerting, or seem silly, to those who have relegated death to the funeral home. “It’s an odd little book,” I once heard an American writer say about Pedro Pciramo, an improbable reaction from a literary person from any other part of the world. But I don’t want to end this note with the question of whether or not the U.S. accepted Rulfo. I learned of John Cheever’s death in a sports page feature about Red Sox fans in New York some time after his death. Months, maybe. That is how literature is honored in this country. But Rulfo lived in a country and world where writers still count, and his peers there made a monument of him long before he died. Now, as his good friend, Uruguayan writer Juan Carlos Onetti, said, Rulfo the man “lives on in the partial heaven of memory,” and his two books speak eloquently for themselves. LI LARRY McMURTRY, I am told, once showed up at a literary gabfest wearing a tee-shirt that read: Minor Regional Novelist. A shirt that Rolando Hinojosa might have worn comfortably some years back. That was before publication of The Valley or Dear Rafe. Hinojosa remains a regionalist \(so become a preterite adjective. Consider this: during the past year Dear Rafe, his penultimate work, was favorably reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, critics compared him to Faulkner and Garcia Marquez, and literary cartographers made a place for Belken County fixing it in print somewhere between Yoknapatawpha and Macondo. Hinojosa attended the PEN Congress in New York where he was one of several writers featured in a session on Hispanic literature in the U. S. A hopeful rumor that begins right here suggests that Hinojosa has returned after signing with a larger and not so regional publishing house. Partners in Crime, the most recent installment in what Arte Ptiblico describes as Hinojosa’s heterogenous novel, Klail City Death Trip Series, will not diminish Hinojosa’s reputation. But Louis Dubose is a freelance writer living in Austin. it is unlikely that it will enhance it. Partners is a departure from the unusual narrative forms of his past two works. In place of the evocative fragments of The Valley and the epistles and bosquejos of Dear Rafe is the staccato PARTNERS IN CRIME: A Rafe Buenrostro Mystery By Rolando Hinojosa Arte Ptiblico Press, 1985, 248 pages; $10.00. voice of a murder mystery written in the third person masculine. It is October, 1972. Oakland and Cincinnati produced the boys of autumn. \(Pete Rose being, in that series, a boy It had been a cool October in Oakland and Cincinnati, but it was a hot one in The Valley, Klail City, Belken County, Texas. It was also a dry October, and the hot weather would continue as it usually did until Christmas or until the first norther came rumbling down from the Panhandle. But, until that happened: no rain. Besides, the hurricane season had been declared officially over by the U.S. Weather Service office in Jonesville-onthe-Rio. And that was that. Drug trafficking has arrived in the money and murder. Not your typical crime-of-passion-killing. There are enough of those. But murder of the carefully calculated gangland type. And into one of these, quite by accident, walks a likeable public servant from The Valley, Klail City, Belken County, Texas. Until the perpetrators of this particular triple murder are brought to justice, no one in the offices of the Homicide Division-Belken County and the Seccion del Orden Pablico-Barrones, Tamaulipas, is going to rest. Lt. Rafe Buenrostro, a character that Hinojosa has carefully cultivated through several novels, has returned to Klail City after a stay in the V.A. Hospital at William Barrett. Buenrostro and his four colleagues in homicide are cerebral, yet believable, cops. They read the New York Times, Houseman, Hardy, and Synge, and quote Charles Lamb. The youngest of the five, however, a Trinity graduate, wonders who these guys are. Across the river, in Barrones, Captain Lisandro Gdmez Solis presides over a more intuitive department. Hinojosa recognizes, on the darker side of the river, a certain conocimiento, understanding complemented by the working of a network of informers in a system where the cops have infiltrated every level of organized crime. Working together, the two departments close the books on several routine homicides before settling down to work on the machine gun assassination of Mexican nationals and the Belken County civil servant at Weavers KumBak Inn on Farm-to -Market 906, 10 miles southeast of Klail City. Clues false and true are scattered throughout the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19 Valley Murder Mystery By Louis Dubose