Prose as cool as the events were grotesque ... Hurricane Season is constructed of run-on stories, thick with rumor, about the witch at its center ... Presented as 'narrative nonfiction' but formally loose, it’s deliberately disorienting. Melchor’s pushing the reader to reassess the premises around which we make judgments about people, countries or entire regions ... Sometimes, the reshaping is musical ... Melchor’s stories intensify ... Melchor’s talent for exposing storytelling tropes is clearest in the collection’s strongest piece, Queen, Slave, Woman, which determinedly scours off the simplistic tropes and assumptions that get attached to true-crime stories ... Melchor isn’t claiming to know the whole story. But what she means to say is that we should think twice before we do as well.
No horrific detail is made up. However, her introduction adds, 'the heart of these texts is not the incidents themselves, but the impact they had on their witnesses.' This qualification is prudent, first, because in most cases the author is not a witness but a careful, patient auditor of witnesses, and second, because some incidents are supernatural ... In addition to bravely presenting dark truths, Melchor writes from a good heart. I admire her compassionate respect for people ... One negative thing must be said. The book’s first third is cliché-blighted ... These faults do weaken the book’s otherwise powerful effects.
Melchor writes about events she mostly didn’t witness, drawing on interviews, news stories and hearsay ... The essays shed light both on the author’s source material and her stylistic evolution ... Melchor introduces a colourful cast of dockworkers and petty criminals.
Melchor ... describes her intention to "tell a story with the maximum amount of detail and the minimum amount of noise." But she is particular about what counts as detail and what is noise ... An enigma gives way to corrupt policing, strife among government factions, and brutal violence. This is the pattern of Melchor’s relatos ... The deceptions of ordinary people in This Is Not Miami are not these major conspiracies or elite schemes. Rather, they are the silences, the rumors, and the superstitions that conjure a world of ghosts to explain extraordinary events. The lies are the decision not to ask questions or investigate.
Melchor describes some of the book’s texts 'under the journalistic genre of crónica, a hybrid form at once informative and interpretive, which has no entirely satisfying translation in English' ... Her texts are usually more critical than classic crónicas which are often elliptical and fleeting – and represent for me an updating of the genre to address the oppressiveness and unpredictability of contemporary life in Mexico.