Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush by Luis Alberto Urrea, illustrated by Christopher Cardinale
Published by Cinco Puntos Press
The small town of Rosario, Mexico is like so many other towns and cities across the world. Although most of the citizens are more or less good people, Rosario suffers from the hypocrisy and poor judgment that so often afflicts people living in close proximity to one another. Luckily – depending on your point of view – Rosario is also the home of Mr. Mendoza, the self-proclaimed Graffiti King of Mexico. Mr. Mendoza’s graffiti is not the normal, destructive kind that you might think, but instead he uses his paintbrush to attempt to goad the town into behaving more morally. When Mr. Mendoza finds the unnamed narrator, a young man, and his friend spying on a group of girls bathing in the river, he forces the boys to strip and run through the town, with messages about their perversity written on their bodies.
I found “Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush” to be a lovely tale of a small town in Mexico, made special by the edge of magical realism which Urrea brings to the work. The story was simple, but all the more powerful as a tale of human nature for its simplicity.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the lovely illustrations provided by Christopher Cardinale. I tend to have a problem actually paying attention to the illustrations in graphic novels, since when I am reading I tend to be so focused on the words. Not this time. Page after page I simply lost myself in Cardinale’s illustrations, spending minutes on end taking in the gorgeous detail in each picture.
I’m so happy that I broke from my usual routine and picked up “Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush.” Highly recommended for fans for magical realism or graphic novels.
Luis Alberto Urrea’s website
Other Books by Luis Alberto Urrea:
“The Devil’s Highway”
“The Hummingbird’s Daughter”
“Into the Beautiful North”
“By the Lake of Sleeping Children”
“Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border”
“Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life”
“In Search of Snow”
“Six Kinds of Sky”
“Wandering Time: Western Notebooks”
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