19 December 2007

The Milagro Beanfield War: A delightful read about the day a man began irrigating his father's beanfield

The Milagro Beanfield War: A Novel
John Nichols
Owl Books, 2000

I finally got around to reading this novel whilst on summer vacation (it was in the free pile at the condo) and am so glad that I did.

Nichols engages the reader from the first page, with a blend of magical realism, social commentary, satire, and good old fashioned story telling.

Jose "Joe" Mandragon sets in motion a variety of forces in the state of New Mexico when he irrigates his family legacy, a miniscule beanfield left to him by his father. With that simple act, centuries-old tensions between rancher and farmer, Mexican and Anglo, subsistence living and the cash economy, come to a head.

What could have been a dull exercise in race relations, regional history, and economic theory, is instead brought to wonderful, earthy life in this charming novel that will make you think, laugh, and perhaps even shed a tear or two.

Definitely worth reading!

(This review was originally written on June 14, 2006.)

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