December 21, 2001

"Idos de la mente" where Norteña music becomes literature

By Pablo De Sainz

An accordion.

A bajo sexto.

Two friends.

A lot of friends.

A novel.

Yes, a novel where norteña music becomes literature; a novel where norteña music, the music from northern Mexico, makes the reader dance with its rancheras and cumbias; a novel where norteña music gives us a corrido about friendship, betrayal, and death.

That novel is titled "Idos de la mente" (Joaquin Mortiz, 2001), by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite, the most important and recognized Tijuana writer.

"Idos de la mente" is the funny story of Ramon and Cornelio, a couple of friends who create a norteño duet and go out to the street with their music.

The novel narrates the story of the two friends, with their successes, their failures, their betrayal, their lovers, and, above all, their music full of sentiment.

In "Idos de la mente," besides Ramon and Cornelio, there are several peculiar characters: Dios, the almighty song writer; Jose Alfredo, Mexico's greatest idol; Carmela Rafael, Cornelio's existentialist wife; and Tijuana, the city where Ramon and Cornelio's music is born.

Crosthwaite narrates the story through a series of original literary techniques. The use of fragments, the brief chapters, and the prose's rhythm are but a few of the resources that the writer uses to create this corrido of contemporary Mexican literature.

But this is not the first time that Crosthwaite surprises us with a good novel.

Born in Tijuana in 1962, Luis Humberto Crosthwaite has published several novels and short story collections, of which the most famous are "El gran pretender" (1992) and "Estrella de la calle Sexta" (Tusquets, 2000).

These books have brought Crosthwaite great recognition, who is considered by critics as the most important Tijuana writer, and maybe from northern Mexico.

Jose Agustin, the writer who in the `60s brought Mexican literature to new levels, has said that "Luis Humberto Crosthwaite is an intrepid writer who always takes us to wild and unknown lands."

And once again, in "Idos de la mente," Crosthwaite has created a modern classic.

But when you read this novel, don't take it too seriously.

Maybe it's only an invitation from Ramon and Cornelio to have a beer with them and their music in Tijuana's Zona Norte.

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