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Mexican Days: Journeys Into the Heart of Mexico Paperback – 24 Apr 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (24 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767920910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767920919
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,447,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By noc on 27 July 2011
Format: Paperback
My main problem with this book is that there is too much of the author in it and not enough of Mexico. The writing tends to be a little dry at times though there are some funny moments - especially the description of his hired car woes when he is in Chiapas. Overall though I found the book dragged a bit and was disjointed, flitting back and forth around the country and even in time. It seems like the author was not very happy when he was writing this book and the melancholy mood really comes through. I felt this was very much the 'gringo' take on Mexico. There was too much description of art and music which are very abstract when you cannot see or hear what he is talking (at length) about. I would have preferred more descriptions of his interactions with Mexicans. There are some but not enough. Most of his encounters that he chooses to relate are with other Americans and friends of his.

I bought this on an assumption that it was a piece of travel writing but it reads more like a memoir or reflection of one man on a short period in his own life. It was as if he was using the book to tease out his own inner demons rather than discuss the country he was writing about, which in travel writing can sometimes be a little frustrating and uninteresting for the reader.
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By Mr. S. M. Rogers on 11 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unlike the other review for this book I have read 'On Mexican Time', which I would say needs to be read to understand this book. Cohan, it would appear assumes in this text that the reader already knows his past episodes in Mexico. I do feel that this could have been called 'Still on Mexican Time' or something along those lines. This would clear up any confusion that this text is a follow-up to the previous one. This is just as good as the first book and explores the reasoning for travel and experience. Again in this book, Cohan seem to be in the right place at the right time and makes his journey slightly magical, tinged with insight and strange experiences. I must say though, read 'On Mexican Time' first or this will come across as flighty and lack the depth and warmth of the first.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
The Real Mexico 29 May 2006
By R. Spell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Don't not buy this book as a travel guide. This is a book about the "state of mind" of Mexico and those drawn to it as much as it describes unique places in the country. The majority of American's knowledge and stereotyping of Mexico are nowhere near the charm, culture and people of Mexico when you meet them in their environment.

I first read Tony Cohan's "A New Life in San Miguel" where he moved in the mid 80s when living in Mexico in the devalued peso era was not very popular. Cohan described the charm of San Miguel to perfection. This book revisits San Miguel during the filming of a movie with Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas and relevant disruption this causes to his formerly quiet little town. In addition, his town is now overrun with American touristas, who he quietly dislikes and he also blames for runaway housing prices which helps to destroy his quiet little town's character.

An invitation to write an article of unique places to visit in Mexico leads to this book which is not a tourist guide but rather a description of these unique little towns and the effect on the soul of this expatriate American. To further this introspective traveling review, Cohan now goes through the year with minimal time seeing his wife Mosaka, an accomplished author and photographer in her own right who prepares books on Mexican Tile and Mexican color in design and architecture. Thus begins a yearly journey into the soul of Mexico and Tony Cohan.

Cohan visits many towns like Guanajuato, Xilitla, Jalpan, Oaxaca City, Xalapa, Tlacotalpan, Palenque, and Merida. All have their unique charm and geography. Many of these towns he compares to San Miguel twenty years ago before the arrival of the tourists. Some of my favorite stories are of the mountain villages with constant drizzle or chipichipi on the East Coast near the Caribbean Ocean and also the "son jarocho" music festival where Cohan studies the whole history of the music dating back to the early 1900s. But my two favorite stories are of Katanchel in the Yucatan jungle and Palenque. Katanchel is described as an enchanting place which a subsequent tragedy brings into perspective. Palenque is the site of a documentary filming of a famous Mayan ruin. Cohan weaves a great story of lovers, honeymooners, hippies and other members of society who check out into the jungle on their own quest.

This is an excellent internal perspective that Cohan shares with his readers. I strongly recommend that you read "A New Life in San Miguel" first and then the continuation of the journey in this book. There are many parts of this book to discuss but would be giving up the story. In many respects Cohan seems to be enjoying his life but struggling through his personal relationships and his love of Mexico which he doesn't want to see change.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A poor follow on to "on mexican time" 3 Jan. 2010
By J. Burns - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a book that was obviously written to cash in on the previous (and rather good) "On Mexican Time". This one fails on almost every front -- the prose is lurid and self indulgent, the content is all about the author, and not about the subject, and should the reader ever make it to the end he will be no wiser and only better informed insofar as it relates to Mr Cohan's personal life.
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Exotica (expatriots, artists, intellectuals and world travelers) but where is Juan Fulano? 2 Jun. 2007
By W. Tuohy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Mexican Days is a travel book of sorts, but more an exploration of themes and moods impinging on the author's own subjective life. The book fails to deliver more wide ranging information and insights into lives of average Mexicans - hence my comment about Juan Fulano (Mexico's version of John Q. Public). The author writes mostly about people of his own disposition/situation (expatriot, artist, intellectual and world traveler).

Here are examples of missing information. After returning to San Miguel the author takes a taxi to a nearby shrine, and afterward catches a ride back to town in a delivery truck. To my surprise, nothing is written about any conversation with the truck driver, someone likely in the Juan Fulano category. In my experience, most Mexicans in this situation would be curious about their gringo passenger and eager for conversation. If no such conversation took place the driver was certainly very disappointed.

Secondly, the writer tells about spending a few weeks in the city of Xalapa (or Jalapa) Veracruz, and conveys a sense of the weather and physical features of that beautiful city. But he misses the boat regarding other key elements of local life. Yes, there are university faculty and students in the cafes, artists, etc., but a lot more - including hordes of political officeholders and hangers-on (Xalapa is the state capital).

In sum, Mexican Days is nicely written, and at times fun to read. However, it is more revealing about the author's subjective mood(s) than about Mexico and Mexicans. Yet one more troubled expatriot seeking escape and/or solace in this nearby yet very different culture.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Feels just like Mexico 1 Jun. 2007
By C D Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read Tony Cohan's earlier book, "On Mexican Time" after several of my friends had visited and even moved to San Miguel. It inspired me to visit and my wife and I have now been there 3 times, and will be going back soon. In just our short times there, we have also noticed the changes that Cohan points out in "Mexican Days." It is still beautiful and a great place to visit (or live) but much busier and more of a tourist destination than a few years ago.

This new book makes me want to visit other parts of Mexico. It also makes me want to learn more of the history and language. Most of us in the U.S.A. see Mexico only as the poor country to the south and have no idea of how diverse and rich the culture is, how many different ethnic groups make up Mexico, how beautiful and varied the countryside is, and how fascinating and tragic the history is. This book does a great job of telling those stories.

This is a wonderfully written, very personal, account of travels in parts of Mexico that we do not often hear about. I only wish it could have been longer and that Cohan could have written about some of the other places I have heard about, but never visited, such as Morelia, Delores Hidalgo, and the Copper Canyon. Maybe there will be a volume 2. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in or about to travel to Mexico.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Magical Mexico: Cohan Opens a New Door to Mexican Travel 24 July 2007
By Christine Zibas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Without having read any of Cohan's other books, discovering "Mexican Days" was like finding a new friend. I loved Cohan's writing, and more than that, I came away from the book having been truly inspired to return to Mexico. In the meantime, I have a whole list of new things to explore through the Internet and other books. Cohan has piqued my interest in a variety of topics: new Mexican artists to discover, details about Mayan history to flush out, new dishes to make, and a list of places to visit on my return.

As an expat, Cohan's approach to travel writing is among the best that I have found. His tastes and interests parallel mine; he writes about much of what I would like to explore myself, never getting bogged down. His infusion of personal friendships and meetings into his writing makes it feel like you are there with Cohan, as the ultimate insider.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves travel or Mexico. There is much to enjoy here. I really feel like Cohan has given me a new door into a country that I thought I knew. It doesn't get any better than that.
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