By Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
Self published, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho | 138 pages | 2015 | $14.00
Reviewed by Michael Carey
Ruiz-Camacho is an educated and gifted writer. His debut story collection, Barefoot Dogs, is receiving a great deal of attention. I have to say, it is well earned, indeed. Born in Mexico and receiving a higher education in the United States, Antonio tackles the subject of a Mexican family ripped at the seams by the kidnapping of its patriarch and the dispersion of its members.
Barefoot Dogs tells eight stories of people connected to the Arteaga family after the disappearance of Jose Victoriano Arteaga. Ruiz-Camacho takes a unique approach to the tragedy in the characters he chooses to explore. We are presented with personal, unflinching accounts of how those affected by the disappearance struggle and even effect the lives of those they encounter.
We read the story of grandchildren: some old enough to feel the implications and others not yet able to truly understand what is going on, only feeling the flux life has become. Lovers and mistresses, servants and sons, all feel the shockwave of the horrors occurring in Mexico City at the time. There is a love for the city, life, and family they knew, but there is fear too.Antonio Ruiz-Camacho paints a vague picture of the story below the surface, the story of Jose Victoriano’s disappearance. The responses and experiences of the same tragedy vary so wildly, the reader looses focus at times on the catalyst that set the worlds of Ruiz-Camacho’s characters into their current states. Therefore it is important to remember that Barefoot Dogs is a collection of stories, each an exploration of the human condition navigating the emotions and motivations of each character.
Barefoot Dogs takes a refreshing approach to such a heavy subject that it encourages the reader through, page after page, story after story; each story told from different characters’ points of view. Even the grammar choices offer qualities to the characters.
Ruiz-Camacho, in his collection of stories, gives us a glimpse into a world that is, most likely, far different from our own. Though fictional, he presents it with a realistic touch brought to life by his characters. I enjoyed the book and liked the author’s method of portraying this story and applaud the way his brings his characters to life.
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