The Permit that Never Expires
Philip Garrison keeps his eyes and ears open. And he also keeps an open mind. It helps that he's bilingual, because a lot of his neighbors these days speak Spanish and he likes to know what's on their minds. Like his epileptic friend Pera, who asks him to write a note in English to explain to her supervisor that she probably shouldn't be cooking on a grill in case she has a seizure and falls into the flames. When Garrison asks her if she has a work permit, she replies,"Bueno. El que nunca vence." The kind that never expires. That's the sort of response he doesn't forget.
There is a river, Garrison writes, that runs from Oaxaca to British Columbia. El flujo migratorio, he calls it. The migratory flow. But it isn't a conventional sort of river. "It is made of neither rock nor water nor wind but only of motion, of momentum. And yet . . . it is the most compelling feature in the entire U.S. West," he claims. Garrison has his feet planted firmly in the middle of this river of humanity, wondering why America is trying to build a wall along an actual river, the Rio Grande, to keep us separated from the mxicanos. All borders, he writes, exist mostly in the imagination--a point he proves decisively in this delightful book.
Garrison is an award-winning writer and this book shows why. Warm, witty, self-deprecating, and charming (the list could go on), this collection illuminates the lives of these migrants, whether at the local food bank in Ellensburg, Washington, in the streets of Michoacán, or everywhere in between.
'Anyone who wants to understand Mexican immigration should read this book--and it's a gripping read, for Garrison is at once stylish, unusually perceptive, wryly humorous, and, above all, both compassionate and deeply knowledgable. This is an astonishingly original and important work.' --C.M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
'Philip Garrison once again emerges as the ultimate coyote. No other author has proven as tenacious or as fearless or as open to startling invention in leading us across the desert of our nation's failure to imagine the migrant/immigrant flux from Mexico as anything but an unsolvable problem.' --Ann Neelon, editor of New Madrid: Journal of Contemporary Literature
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