Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir

Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir

by Jean Guerrero


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A daughter’s quest to understand her charismatic and troubled father, an immigrant who crosses borders both real and illusory—between sanity and madness, science and spirituality, life and death

Winner of the PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize • Expressive and affecting . . . deeply researched and tightly written . . . Crux, at its heart, is [Jean] Guerrero’s love letter to her dad.”—NPR

Throughout Jean Guerrero’s childhood, her father, Marco Antonio, was an erratic and elusive presence. A self-taught genius at fixing, creating, and conjuring things—and capable of transforming himself into a shaman, dreamcaster, or animal whisperer in his enchanted daughter’s eyes—he gradually began to lose himself in his peculiar obsessions, careening wildly between reality and hallucination. In time, he fled his family and responsibilities—to Asia, Europe, and eventually back to Mexico. He succumbed to drug- and alcohol-fueled manias, while suffering the effects of what he said were CIA mind-control experiments. As soon as she was old enough, Jean set out after him. Now a journalist, she used the tools of her trade, hoping to find answers to the questions he left behind.

In this lyrical, haunting memoir, Jean Guerrero tries to locate the border between truth and fantasy as she searches for explanations for her father’s behavior. Refusing to accept an alleged schizophrenia diagnosis at face value, she takes Marco Antonio’s dark paranoia seriously and investigates all his wildest claims. She crisscrosses the Mexican-American border to unearth the stories of cousins and grandparents and discovers a chain of fabulists and mystics in her lineage, going back to her great-great-grandmother, a clairvoyant curandera who was paid to summon spirits from the afterlife. As she delves deeper and deeper into her family’s shadowy past, Jean begins mirroring her father’s self-destructive behavior. She risks death on her adventures, imperiling everything in her journey to redeem her father from the underworld of his delusions.

In the tradition of engrossing family memoirs like The Liar’s Club and The Glass Castle, Crux is both a riveting adventure story and a profoundly original exploration of the human psyche, the mysteries of our most intimate relationships—and ourselves.

“[Guerrero] writes poetically about borders as a metaphor for the boundary of identity between father and daughter and the porous connective tissues that bind them.”—The National Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399592393
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/17/2018
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 223,463
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Jean Guerrero, winner of the PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize, is the Fronteras reporter for KPBS, the NPR and PBS affiliate in San Diego, reporting on cross-border issues for radio and TV. She has also worked for The Wall Street Journal, won several prestigious reporting awards, and has an MFA from Goucher College.

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The Summons

Excerpted from "Crux"
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Copyright © 2018 Jean Guerrero.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
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Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
mweinreich More than 1 year ago
"Crux is a constellation located in the southern sky in a bright portion of the Milky Way. . Its name is Latin for cross, and it is dominated by a cross-shaped or kite-like asterism that is commonly known as the Southern Cross." Jean Guerro has always wanted her father's love, his praise, his admiration of her. She searches for a way, any way to make him connect with her but her father, Papi is a troubled man. He is a diagnosed schizophrenic, although Jean and Papi and some family doubt that diagnosis. They see Papi as being gifted, a man who communes with nature, a seer, a reader of destiny, a clairvoyant for sure the voices he hear and the things he does make him so. Marco Antonio is an enigma, a man Jean strives in this memoir to know, to explain, to march in sync with and yet Marco is a totally disconnected man. He goes through bouts of being addicted to alcohol to drugs of many kinds and casting himself adrift in a world that only he seems to understand fully. He is man haunted by intellect, by reality, by being different, distant and divergent from the norm. In many ways Jean, who becomes an investigative reporter, tries to be like Marco, for in being like him she might come to a better understanding, a better communion with her father, a way in which to be a daughter to a man who is always unsettled and dislocated. She travels in Mexico linking up with family people who know her father, if that is at all possible to know a man such as Marco. Can she, in finding a reason for her father's behavior, therefore find a reason for hers? This was a complex story as Ms Guerro tries to see her father from all aspects. Is he really the schizophrenic that some think him to be or is he a mystical creature, one who reads signs, a shaman, a healer, a sorcerer? It is a painful journey that the author takes and many times it was a difficult story to both read and tell. For Jean, her father is her constellation, he is the bright portion of her life. Thank you to Jean Guerro, Random House Publishing, and NetGalley for a copy of this tangled tale. John Nash once said "In madness, I thought I was the most important person in the world." I did find this self same idea in Marco as well.