06 July 2009

The Texicans (Nina Vida)

Before I start off properly I think I should give you a definition of 'Texican'. My reason for doing this is that I was a bit prejudiced against this book before I read it. I assumed there was no such word and the author was being a tad pretentious/illiterate (depending on whether or not it was deliberate). Then I looked it up and... oops. Sorry for calling you pretentious Nina; a Texican is either someone who lived in Texas when it was the Republic of Texas, OR it's someone who is Texan of Mexican descent. Either fit within the confines of the novel...thank you urban dictionary.

So misconceptions about the novel out of the way, it was in fact a good read. Historical fiction, set in Texas in 1800s, a period about which I know very little outside what Little House on the Prairie taught me. Which isn't actually set in Texas but they do travel in a wagon 'west' and with my limited geographical knowledge of America that'll do!

Set over the course of a decade, this is one of those family saga stories, mainly focusing on Joseph Kimmel, a Jewish school teacher from Missouri (I think) who travels across Texas after the death of his brother. Despite being quite snarky and extremely solitary, he manages to pick up a wife, a runaway slave, a Mexican witch, an amputee and his family along his journey. He builds a ranch, gets attacked by Comanches, goes up against some very corrupt Texas rangers and generally achieves WAY too much for one character in one book.

I could have done without a few of the more graphic scenes, like when the Comanche chief is eaten alive by a warring tribe. Or when Joseph accidentally eats human meat - my dislike of those scenes is obviously due to my being a bit squeamish. And maybe I missed the point of the book (but I really don't think so) but I believe the ending needed to be altered slightly, i.e. I think it should be changed to the ending I was expecting. Considering I put up with doom and gloom and cannibalism and gratuitous violence I reckon I deserve a happy ending.

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