Down the Rabbit Hole

Down the Rabbit Hole

Book - 2012
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What Tochtli wants more than anything right now is a new pet for his private zoo: a pygmy hippopotamus from Liberia. But Tochtli is growing up in his drug baron father's luxury hideout, shared with hit men and dealers. Down the Rabbit Hole, a masterful and darkly-comic first novel, is the chronicle of a delirious journey to grant a child's wish.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780374143350
Characteristics: 75 pages ; 19 cm
Additional Contributors: Harvey, Rosalind 1982-- Translator


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Jul 25, 2018

An exquisitely crafted little novella, Villalobos writes the world of Tochtli, his father Yolcaut and his teacher Mazatzin with such care. We are never told Tochtli's age, just that he is a "little boy." We know next to nothing about his mother. There are many omissions like this that set the tone. This is not straight realism, or as Villalobos says, "While I was writing I wasn’t thinking about creating the plausible voice of a child of a certain age or condition. I was more interested in doing something with language, finding a voice that captivated me. "

I find it particularly interesting how Villalobos frames the story—where he chooses to begin, and to end. The choices highlight how this is Tochtli's story, centered around what matters most to him at that moment in time, and not elaborating and answering all of our questions as readers. There is the sense that this is one of only many chapters in Tochtli's life, and at the end a sort of cyclicism seems to creep in. Read carefully and enjoy the use of language.

Mar 24, 2018

A superb novella written from the perspective of a precocious young son of a Mexican drug kingpin whose limited world view is determined by the fifteen people he is allowed to interact with. The main character, Usagi, known by his Samurai name, as well as his indigenous name, Tochtli, which translates to "rabbit," has developed a fascinating way of dealing with his predicament of living in a secure and isolated palace, having no mother around and being the youngest member of a cartel gang. His fascination with reading the dictionary nightly for difficult words and his hobby of collecting hats from around the world allow him to expand his way of knowing the surreal world that he inhabits. Think a young Holden Caufield as a young gang member caught up with the notions of being macho and a samurai while on a quest for a Liberian pygmy hippopotamus.

JCLChrisK Dec 06, 2016

Life is hard enough to make sense of for an average seven-year-old, but it's even more so for Tochtli. He has spent his entire, spoiled life in relative isolation ("I know maybe thirteen or fourteen people") in the remote mansion of his father, who is a very rich and powerful international drug lord; and a relatively high percentage of those people in his life are "mute"--only around the boy, one assumes, for the sake of self-preservation; you can't accidentally insult someone you don't talk to.

Totchli's narration is full of musings based on his highly unusual circumstances. It's apparent his father has taught him to always be macho--never be a "faggot"--and all about the business of making corpses. It seems he's largely had to figure out everything else on his own. He is obsessed with hats, samurai, beheadings (historical execution styles is one of his main criteria for evaluating the worthiness of different nations), and the dictionary ("Some of the difficult words I know are: sordid, disastrous, immaculate, pathetic, and devastating;" all of which he uses constantly and excessively). His most recent obsession is adding a Liberian pygmy hippopotamus to his private zoo.

Through Tochtli's eyes, we get a peek into a world of hit men, prostitutes, dealers, servants, and corrupt politicians. Yet, even with all of that, he sees it all through a lens of innocence and wonder--one that Villalobos uses effectively as a method of critique. His telling of events is equal parts amusing, disturbing, sordid, and devastating. And this very short, fast-reading book is uniquely entertaining.

Mar 14, 2015

About a drug lord's child and his relation to the world around him. Told in the first person by the child. Perfect length because it does get winded after awhile. Very short. Overall, I recommend it. B- -----Midas the Madman (PAY ME JACK!)

Apr 22, 2014

The most wonderful 75 pages I've read this year! Great 'voice' of characters. Is there such a thing as simple complexity? If so, this is it. highly recommend-

Nov 13, 2013

This novella (70 pages) is narrated by a young boy, the son of a drug baron. It is strangely good and very well done, unlike many books from a child's perspective.


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JCLChrisK Dec 06, 2016

Books don't have anything in them about the present, only the past and the future. This is one of the biggest defects of books. Someone should invent a book that tells you what's happening at this moment, as you read. It must be harder to write that sort of book than the futuristic ones that predict the future. That's why they don't exist. And that's why I have to go and investigate reality.

JCLChrisK Dec 06, 2016

Hair is a dead part of the body. For example: when you get your hair cut it doesn't hurt. And if it doesn't hurt it's because it's dead. It does hurt when someone pulls it, but it's not the hair that hurts, it's your scalp. I researched it in my free time with Mazatzin. Hair is like a corpse you wear on your head while you're alive.


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