Morábito skillfully pairs this moving (and slow-moving) individual arc with a feverish collective story, whose twists and turns again relate to Fraire’s poem ... What follows is a nightmarish comedy of manners, equal parts horror and humor, each serving to enhance the other. The humor in particular deserves a side note; it’s a deliciously smooth blend of irony and slapstick, cementing Morábito’s fame as a master of the genre. Translator Curtis Bauer does a brilliant job of conveying that mastery in English ... It’s rare for a novel to so deftly balance character and plot. It’s even rarer for a complex plot to sprout from such unlikely sources: the old, the ill, the poets. This, I think, is what makes Home Reading Service exceptional. On the one hand, its protagonist evolves through increasingly close contact with bodies past their prime; he is able to do so because Morábito paints them as bona fide subjects of love and lust—a far cry from our own take on aging and infirmity. Meanwhile, poetry is often relegated to the dark and dusty corners of our local bookstores—many think of it as idle exercise, free of any real-world implications. In the novel, though, it captivates the masses and drives them to a darkly epic climax.
Among its other merits, Home Reading Service dramatizes the collapsing barrier between literacy and illiteracy in Mexico. The most poignant question asked by the novel may be what form contemporary Mexican literature might take once the restraints are removed ... To his credit, Morábito does not sentimentalize intimations of change ... Can a vital Mexican literature thrive in such a vacant context? Home Reading Service stands as an imaginative testament to signs that it might.
American poet and professor Curtis Bauer adroitly enables English access here. Literacy, fluency, and interactive engagement with words loom throughout the novel, adding multilayered density to what might initially seem to be a light narrative.