Narrative in Latin America: conscience and credibility

Versión en español.

For a class on narrative techniques here in Mexico, I was looking for examples of the kind of writing you find in New Yorker. The magazine Gatopardo has that reputation.

Alejandro Almazán. Photo: MasPorMas.com
It was there I found the story of "A hapless narco" ("Un narco sin suerte) by Alejandro Almazan and immediately got hooked.  It tells the story of one J.R., a singer of corridos, traditional songs that tell stories of heroes and villains based on real people and events.

J.R. and his family are living a quiet life up in the mountains when he hears about the fortunes being made in the illegal drug trade by people in Culiacan, in northwestern Mexico. He decides he wants a piece of that. But his every attempt fails for reasons that are by turns hilarious and frightening.

The story is perfect in every detail. So perfect, in fact, that I wondered if this were really journalism or fiction. The magazine gave it a journalistic label: "reportaje," which is definitely not fiction.
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