Books,  Fiction,  The Q Review

Q Review | Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas | Fernando A. Flores

A few months ago I went to a recently opened indie bookstore called Alienated Majesty, close to the University of Texas campus. It’s a cute place with all kinds of cool stuff you might not find in a larger, corporate chain. The staff was helpful, and when I went to pay, the guy at the register confirmed that one of my selections, Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas by Fernando A. Flores was, indeed, a banger. Flores is a local writer I’d not yet read, and I was excited to jump in.

Death to the Bullshit Artists of South Texas is not a large book, but it took me quite a while to finish it, and that’s because whenever I really, really like a book, I find myself slowing down. (This is opposite of most people I know who get obsessed with the books they like and race through them.) I was immediately captured – mesmerized, even – by these short fictions described on the back cover as “10 punk rock fairy-tales” that take place in the Rio Grande Valley (where Texas meets Mexico at it’s southernmost point). The stories are strange and, at times, discomforting. They move in and out of the surreal with ease, carrying us along on wave after wave of the unexpected grace and vivid aspiration for being understood that flows through the blood of artists.

Each story feel like a dream. In fact, one of the stories – “The Performances of Liliana Krauze” – gave me such a powerful, painful dream that I simply had to put this book (and all other books) down for a week to recover. Not because the story itself was tragic, but because it called up ways of being I’d suppressed for decades, and reminded me of a time when I wasn’t afraid to put myself out there artistically (and otherwise), even when it made no sense to other people.

Flores’ style is highly aesthetic, but unaffected. He writes viscerally about artistic people with complex lives and relationships, but does so in a way that pulls our own creative power from deep within the psyche and unplugs the reservoirs of complicated, beautifully painful, and whimsically honest feelings that we’ve done our best to forget.

I’m in love with this book. I recommend it highly. I didn’t realize how much I needed it until it was in my hands.