Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico

Pantheon. Mar. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9781524748883. $35. HIST
Journalist and novelist Villoro has been writing about Mexico City for over 20 years. Originally published in Spanish in 2018, his latest book brings his wealth of experiences to bear. Through a collection of personal stories, geographical essays, social histories, and biographies, he weaves a nonlinear account of Mexico City—because the story of Mexico City is nonlinear. It is a city that exists in and out of chronology and is both defined by and defines its space. He explores the city’s vast history, from prehistory and Spanish colonial entradas to the present, and wanders through its spaces in what may appear to be a haphazard format. But he has a reason for grouping the stories by places, characters, ceremonies, and more. His design gives readers the opportunity to decide on their own where to start and where to end, much like a traveler or visitor would decide what spaces to explore. In so doing, readers create their own personal version of the story.
VERDICT Villoro is not for the casual reader but for those who are interested in a deeply complex yet personal social history of Mexico City. The book serves as a nice complement to The Mexico City Reader (2004).
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