These antic and often dire stories depict the violence and corruption that plague Mexico today, but they are also ruminative and layered explorations of the narrative impulse and the ethics of art making.
... an assemblage of excellence, 10 short works that captivate and confound. These stories are surreal and absurd even as they uncover certain realities – harsh and otherwise – about the Mexican experience ... It’s rare to encounter fiction that functions effectively both as commentary and as pure narrative, but these stories do just that. They are weird and visceral and deliberately difficult to define, but each of them has the power to work its way into your imagination. Funny and poignant, driven by moments of hilarity and sadness and fury, Bring Me the Head of Quentin Tarantino is an exceptional reading experience ... There isn’t a dud in the bunch. Herbert a gift for the challenging and the evocative – images and ideas alike. In the space of just a few sentences, he crafts whole worlds, populating them with idiosyncratic idealogues and idiot idealists. He uses these strange situations and stranger characters to address some of the very real issues of Mexican life. Poverty, drugs, corruption – all viewed through the distorted fluidity of Herbert’s finely-honed storytelling lunacy ... It’s also worth noting that, while it can be difficult to discern the impact of a translator on the work being translated, there’s little doubt that MacSweeney has done right by Herbert – the wit, the energy, the insight are all front and center. A great translator is one who does not leave their prints behind, and as far as that goes, MacSweeney is a ghost ... short fiction at its finest. Julian Herbert is unafraid to push boundaries with his storytelling, resulting in a collection of pieces that aren’t quite like anything I’ve ever read. Ten gems, each possessed of their own unique sparkle and shape – a precious and worthwhile collection.
... flatters Western-style writers like the book’s namesake, Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, and Roberto Bolaño, and then cuts them down to size. Packed with the outlaws, quippy dialogue, and violence of his influences, Quentin Tarantino emphasizes the tragic circumstances that fuel these kinds of stories, proving that a Western is neither a setting nor a gun. It is a mindset and a circumstance. The result is a kaleidoscopic collection that begins faithful to influences, then morphs into a postmodern wrestling match between the seduction of capitalistic thought and the economic inequity that keeps the characters in such claustrophobic and dangerous internal worlds ... MacSweeney’s English translation imbues the collection’s narrators with the same enterprising charisma as she did the enigmatic Highway in Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth ... an ambitious, generous boon. While this deliberately challenging read might turn off a casual reader, Herbert’s parody of Tarantino’s style and MacSweeney’s lively translation chart unmarked territory for other artists to explore. This book does future writers a kindness: Herbert is practically begging to be turned into kitsch.
It’s obvious Herbert enjoys examining the corruption of his native land, Mexico...and he excels at rendering memorable, oftentimes apologetic characters who dwell in tightly constructed worlds that feel weirdly unobjectionable and totally nuts at once ... Herbert, like Luiselli, illuminates the importance of an artist’s own storytelling and how it forms his or her identity ... Reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson, Herbert smartly partners bizarre characters with commentary on modern societal woes and how citizens react ...
Herbert doesn’t do dull ... the seemingly mundane is transmogrified by an expert who ranks among other expert storytellers mentioned throughout this collection, such as Pedro Almodóvar, Samuel Beckett, and Étienne Mallarmé. But what’s most unforgettable about Herbert’s work is its unexpected, disarming poignancy.