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Tochtli in Wonderland
on 7 April 2014
'Down the Rabbit Hole' is a slight novel about life inside the bizarre world of a Mexican drug baron as seen through the eyes of Tochtli, a nine-year old boy. Except of course that the title 'Down the Rabbit Hole' has echoes of Alice in Wonderland, that strange distorted fantasy world as seen through the eyes of child experiencing something unusual and that link, that other-worldliness is very evident within this book.
Tochtli isn't your average nine year-old, he's lived in isolation from the rest of the world, apparently all his life, he lives in the middle of an emotionless world, where he can count the number of live people he knows and he's well aware that people turn into corpses for reasons he cannot understand. His is a selfish, self-centred existence, that of a little prince, whose life is devoid of any notion of love, but full of possessions, demands and whims.
So the novel is original and different, and Tochtli is weirdly diverting company, but that's all. This is a novel set in a Mexican drug cartel that says nothing about drugs, corruption or violence, except to portray the latter, off scene, as a normal part of life. This is a novel about a child, that says nothing about childhood and a novel about selfishness that refuses to do anything other than highlight it. For me 'Down the Rabbit Hole' needed to go somewhere morally, to make some kind of judgement about its weirdness, rather than be content to be modern day Alice in Wonderland, just looking wide-eyed, like a child at this strange world someone else calls normal.