The Dead Women of Juárez, by Robert Andrew Powell

The Dead Women of Juárez (Kindle Single)The Dead Women of Juárez by Robert Andrew Powell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Once I had the patience to figure out how to strip the DRM from a Kindle Single so that I can read long-form journalism on my Sony Reader, a new world of ebook reading has opened up to me. The Dead Women of Juárez was my first purchase.

I chose this title for two reasons. First, I was browsing the Kindle Singles, since I’m intrigued by the new collection. I love to read journalistic stories that go into more depth than is usually allowed in print. Second, after reading Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, a novel of five stories that revolve around the murders of women in Santa Teresa, Mexico (a thinly disguised fictional version of Juárez), I have wanted to learn more. The murders, called femicides, have been taking place since the 1990s. As Powell’s story points out, the town’s legendary problem with what appears to be horrific gender discrimination is prone to exaggeration.

If the typos and grammatical mistakes (“pouring over documents” “cites along the border”) don’t distract you from this amateurish attempt at journalism, the author’s attempt to mix his personal (and minimally reflective) story with the story of the violent horrors of Ciudad Juárez makes this Kindle Single read more like an extended blog post than a book. And, I don’t pay to read blog posts.

And with the lines “I feel so sad thinking about it. It is so utterly sad,” the author gives up trying to hold together the reader’s focus, concluding the “book” without much by way of a conclusion.

I give it two stars (instead of just one) because the author makes one compelling point in his search for the truth behind the femicides of Juárez (the murders of women that reportedly are the result of Mexican machismo and gender discrimination). It is this, “the problem is the life itself in Juarez, across the board, has been devalued.”

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