lunes, 2 de abril de 2018

Travels with a Mexican Circus - Katie Hickman [Review]

Title: Travels with a Mexican Circus
Author: Katie Hickman
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir, travel.
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publishing date: 2014 (original 1993)
Pages: 356

Hello! This is the first nonfiction book I’ve read. I read it last December as part of my research for the book I’m writing.

Travels with a Mexican Circus is an account of Katie Hickman's extraordinary year spent amidst the faded glamour of a Mexican travelling circus. Katie Hickman went to Mexico looking for magic. She found it in the circus - big top, clowns, elephant and all - where cheap, torn materials are transformed for a night into glittering illusion. Gradually adjusting to the harsh ways of the circus's nomadic lifestyle she soon became absorbed into this hypnotic new world. At first, as a foreigner, she was on the outskirts, but she soon became La Gringa Estrella, a performer in her own right and adopted sister to the Bell's family.

Travels with a Mexican Circus was originally titled A Trip to the Light Fantastic. Katie Hickman traveled with the Bell’s circus from 1989 to 1990, and published her book originally in 1993. In 2014 the book was published again with the new name.

Hickman is an English author, who learnt Spanish and decided to join a circus for her book. In the book we can learn about the everyday life of circus artists in Mexico, where, according to the book itself, is where there are (or were when she wrote it) the major number of circuses in the world. The book is interesting because besides showing how the life of circus artists is, it shows the Mexican culture from the eyes of a foreigner.
Katie Hickman during her circus year.

The stories of the performers are peculiar and interesting on their own right, if you are Mexican you probably know of someone with a dramatic story like those, but if not, you may think life is too hard in Mexico.

Besides her life in the circus, Hickman tells the reader of other experiences she had in the country, as visiting La Selva Lacandona, the monarch butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán, and Catemaco, the city of witches in Veracruz.

The book is well written, descriptive enough to let the reader imagine everything and to make you feel part of the circus, by the end of the book,  despite there are several persons she met, I actually found myself fond of them and curious about what happened to them after Hickman left. Bell’s circus is a still running Mexican circus.

If you are interested in circuses, like me, or if you are looking for an interesting nonfiction memoir full of travel and the strong presence of Mexico, you should definitely read this book, I highly recommend it.

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