Arts, Culture & Media

Take a bittersweet journey into the heart of Mexico City with author Francisco Goldman

Goldman Francisco author photo credit - Mélanie Morand.JPG

Francisco Goldman's latest book The Interior Circuit is an ode to Mexico City, also known as “el DF," the Federal District.


Mélanie Morand

Mexico City has not always been kind to author Francisco Goldman

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For many years, he's divided his time between New York and "el D-F" - the Federal District - as the Mexican capital is known. 

It was in Mexico City where Goldman spent some of the happiest days of his life with his young wife, Aura Estrada. And it was in a hospital in Mexico City that doctors were unable to revive Estrada in 2007, after a freak accident she experienced while bodysurfing at a beach. 

Goldman's efforts to come to grips with that tragedy are central to his new book: "The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle."

He says being able to take the next step in "getting on with his life" required a fundamental reassessment of his allegiance to the city he calls home.  

"One obvious solution, flee Mexico City, too many memories, that's where we met, that's where she died. That's often where we were so happy. But instead, I also realized maybe another solution lay in going further into the city, embracing it, really accepting it as my home, not just as the place where Aura died," Goldman says. "I thought, you know, somehow making a new life in the city, really accepting what this city has meant to me that could be the thing that's really the nourishing and richest way to go forward."

Goldman grabbed the city by the shirt collar, relearning how to drive through its labyrinth of streets and taking up residence in its many cantinas. 

"I throw myself with a kind of crazy energy into that ... And there is some violence and I finally kind of emerge and fall in love again," he says. "And I celebrate a lot in that part of the book the kind of joy and craziness of that city."           

Goldman says, for many years, Mexico City residents joked that they felt like they were "living in a bubble." But in the summer of 2013, he says drug cartel violence struck at the heart of the city. A turning point for Goldman was the kidnapping of a dozen youth at a club called After Heavens. The crime seemed to implicate the city's new mayor, as well as the president. Goldman becomes obsessed with it, and it sends him into parts of the city where countless Mexicans are grappling with death and grief. Their sadness feels familiar to him.

"Mexico is full of tens of thousands of people who've lost their loved ones in violent, sudden ways. This country is like a big lunatic asylum of people running around with untreated trauma," Goldman says. "And then when it hit in the city, I felt really compelled to get close to it, in a really strange way out of a wish to be of help, but also to close a kind of circle and say part of ... living here, in a responsible way, is not to avert your eyes from what's going on."

THE INTERIOR CIRCUIT © 2014 by Francisco Goldman; used with the permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

The Interior Circuit