Between 1977 and 2000, I traveled to Mexico City a dozen times or more, exploring the neighborhoods and suburbs of this bewildering megalopolis which often feels more like an endless series of villages than one giant city. After an absence of nearly two decades I began to read Francisco Goldman’s recent book The Interior Circuit (Grove Press, 2014) and immediately felt that I had been plunged back into the heart of Mexico City. The book’s title refers both to the expressway that rings the interior of the city as well as a poem by Efraín Huerta. But it also serves as a trope for Goldman himself as he restlessly tries to define the power that his adopted city holds over him.
On the fifth anniversary of the death of his wife Aura from a bodysurfing accident, Goldman, at nearly sixty years of age, decides to take driving lessons as a way of conquering his fear of Mexico City’s notorious traffic. It’s a way of pretending to take control over an uncontrollable situation. By the end of the book, Goldman has successfully navigated his rental car to a site chosen by chance on a map of the city, and his journey has led the reader through his ongoing grief for Aura, the dismaying 2012 election of Enrique Peña Nieto, and the disturbing expansion of violence brought down on the country by its infamous drug cartels. Read more