I Hated Mexico by Josh Barkan

Mexico by Josh Barkan is one of the worst books I’ve laid my hands on in a while.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when the author bio said that Barkan had taught writing at places like Harvard, NYU, or Boston University. This man can barely write. His prose sounds like someone who’s still really trying to find his footing. It feels like he’s trying to copy the writing format of better writers in the hopes that the tricks will work for him too. Instead they fall flat.

Don’t get me started on how fake his characters or their speech seems. Everything feels so one dimensional. He’s trying to explore personalities and lives that aren’t his own. But it really feels like a middle schooler trying to imagine what someone’s else’s life might be like. It’s all laid out with much more telling than showing. This is one author that should really stick to the advice of writing what he knows.

Often, his statements contradict each other, and it’s just so irritating. There is so much that could have been done with these stories. But these stories all just feel a bit like wasted potential. There’s this strange voyeuristic undercurrent to all the stories that really confuses me because it’s all from a first person point of view.

Overall, I’d definitely avoid this book. If you want to read about Mexico or crime stories, look elsewhere.



I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


3 thoughts on “I Hated Mexico by Josh Barkan

  1. Wow, great to see your honesty. I wonder if there were one or two (short) sentences that you could quote to show what you mean about imitation, or about contradiction. Would be interesting to get a feel for what annoyed you so much! 🙂


    1. Sure! Here’s a section that seemed like lost potential to me.

      I tend to wear bicycle riding pants and clogs in the kitchen, under my apron. I like to ride, whenever I get a little bit of time, and I tend to wear a bicycle cap or baseball cap with some heavy metal logo. I had on a baseball cap….

      I’m not sure if you’d agree, but I’ve seen many authors use this kind of repetitive phrasing here to emphasize important things. However, here the things mentioned only matter in this paragraph.

      Liked by 1 person

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