The celebrated American writer and journalist Ambrose Bierce mysteriously disapeared in Mexico during its civil war. In this brilliant novel, Carlos Fuentes imagines the fate of Bierce among Pancho Villa's troops and dramatizes the conflict of North America's two cultures locked in deadly embrace.
The genius of ''The Old Gringo'' is the choice of a character as rich as Ambrose Bierce, who is at the center of a famous mystery....The novel has the magical form invented by the Mexican novelist Juan Rulfo and carried on by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Mr. Fuentes and others. In this form, roles change, characters exist and speak in more than one frame of time on the same page, dream and reality are interchangeable, inconsistencies abound and lead to revelations....The only serious flaw for me is that the book may be too concise; I wished for details to more fully realize the characters, to limit them less by their symbolic roles. Perhaps that would have obscured the depth of the novel; I don't know; the book is a siege of echoes, it goes by in a moment, and that is enough. -- New York Times