Book review: ‘Mexico in the Rearview Mirror’
July 24, 2014
"Mexico in the Rearview Mirror" chronicles the experiences of Clark and Rudy as they travel through Mexico on a south-of-the-border escape. Incline Village author Michael Tassone shares the details of this decidedly offbeat "trip," where two buddies breakaway from everyday life in an attempt to gain enlightenment, find peace and release their inner demons.
It's a psychedelic travelogue with LSD featured as a tour staple. Thought dropping acid was only a '60s thing? Think again. "This book should not be used, under any circumstances, as a guide for travel," the bottom front cover states. Still on board? If so, be cautioned, this expedition includes more than just Mexican vistas.
Best friends, newly graduated from San Francisco State University, set out to explore the U.S. with a healthy appetite for freedom and a penny in their pocket. Well not only a penny, but close.
Following a not-so-great stint in Alaska, where they work in a fishing village staving off the bitter cold, they decide to head south to the warm beaches of Mexico. The "who-am-I" stage of life has them firmly gripped in its pointed teeth. Unique from one another, their approach to finding the profound answers is alike in ways but also different.
Clark is a writer and a thinker and a bit more cautious (not much), while Rudy is a schmoozer and a "just-do-it" person. Both love a good challenge. Clark is grappling with the grief he keeps tight to his chest after the loss of his father. Rudy is determining his readiness to settle down with girlfriend Virginia, whom he fondly calls "V."
They are separated and joined by doubt, fear and trepidation. The launch of this mind-altering and life-affirming adventure provides relief from their angst for awhile, but then a buzz kill emerges. How will they keep gas in the Combi (the Mexican name for a Volkswagon bus), and what about food for sustenance? Stress strikes, tears flow, fights break out, but only a few. A job? Yes, one of those. These two travelers become maestros (teachers) of English in order to feed the beast.
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A steady flow of cervesa stokes their passion in pursuit of the vagabond life and personal illumination. A beer-hazed stupor dominates most days. It's not only cervesa that keeps them lit. Mota (marijuana) and an ample supply of LSD contribute to their altered state as well. No money? No problem. It's all good.
You'll either love this one or you won't. If you don't, I wouldn't pass it off as a lightweight. There are exceedingly deep moments and exotic epiphanies. The historical departures are well done, informative and an integral part of the book. Tassone is a talented, detailed and passionate writer who shares a character's insights in italicized sidetracks that denote the underpinnings of his thoughts.
Soul-searching is a universal concept to which most of us can relate. Drug use and nonstop binge drinking will be off-putting to some and perhaps detract from the honest and authentic narrative lurking behind a purple-hazed curtain of LSD and a bottomless bottle of beer.
Gloria Sinibaldi resides part-time in South Lake Tahoe. Her short story, "A Means To Survive," appears in "Tahoe Blues." She is a job coach, trainer and author. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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