Life is full of disappointments. Life is suffering. All things must pass.
Anyone who ever wanted to pinpoint the source of some of life’s major pain points would do well to heed these oft-used expressions. Billy Maddox Takes Shot, my novel about the life of a young Border Patrol agent in southern Arizona, takes aim at the latter (“All things must pass”) though in a less philosophical and more violent manner.
[Read more…] about The Inevitability of Loss (Billy Maddox #2)
Billy Maddox Takes His Shot
Any life coach will tell you that memory represents one of the most challenging areas in people’s lives. Remembrances of past pain, conflict or misfortune tend to make one hesitate to act. Fear, concern and even bitterness tend to be the offspring of bad experiences, and the impact of memory is no less a feature in some of literature’s most compelling stories. Hamlet broods over his father’s death at the hands of his uncle and mother’s deception. Rochester’s wife goes mad in Jane Eyre and her imprisonment in the attic (the metaphorical equivalent of one’s mind) to hide her from the public eye represents one of the most pleasantly lurid manifestations of the way memory never dies — if you’re into that sort of thing.
Memory is not only a reality, but a crippling one for Billy Maddox, the young protagonist at the heart of the novel Billy Maddox Takes His Shot.
[Read more…] about The Crippling Effect of Memory (Billy Maddox #1)
This is a big moment for me.
Within the next few days, I’m going to launch Billy Maddox Takes His Shot, a novel about a Border Patrol agent in Arizona that I began back in 2003.
Novels aren’t supposed to take this long to write. My excitement is mixed with disappointment that the project took this long. But it’s just what happened.
And I can’t tell if I’m at fault or not. At least once during this 13-year journey, I honestly could have said “I’m finished” and moved on to my next novel. But I didn’t. I stuck with the book. I’ll get to that shortly.
The U.S. – Mexican Border Fence in Nogales, AZ (2003)
There is no symbol quite like a border fence to demonstrate American opposition to illegal border crossings. The fences in Texas may be different from the ones in Arizona may be different from the ones in California. And yet they all share a uniform message for Mexicans and others hoping to slip illegally into the United States through the Southwest: Stay Out.
Over the years, the international border fence has been both revered and mocked. Those who support a strongly protected border point to fences as a powerful statement of intent. Those who would cross the border from Mexico or those who sympathize with such border crossers, would laugh at the ease with which would-be migrants can extend a simple $50 ladder over a multi-million dollar fence, climb up, hop over and leave the fence behind.
My first experience with an international border fence came when I visited Nogales, Arizona in 2003.
The mid-1990s saw a surge in illegal migrant traffic from Mexico to the United States in part due to a struggling Mexican economy exacerbated by a devalued peso in 1994. On the American side of the border, the result was a series of Border Patrol initiatives conducted along the Southwestern border–including Operation Safeguard in Arizona–intended to tamp down on the flow of illegal aliens through well-populated towns and cities.
These busy areas were attractive to would-be border crossers since it was easy to blend into the local, largely Latino population. As hundreds of new agents descended into metropolitan areas along the border as a result of these new initiatives, however, the only alternative became to cross through remote, dangerous territory such as Arizona’s Sonoran Desert.
The Immigration & Naturalization Service hoped such terrain would discourage mostly Mexican aliens from trying to cross illegally. That hope, however, quickly turned to illusion.
As detailed in my last post, Border Patrol agents use sign cutting to track anyone crossing the international border including migrants seeking job opportunities in the United States or drug smugglers moving their narcotics across Arizona’s Sonoran Desert in the Southwest.
Sign cutting was not devised by American border enforcement. The history of sign cutting dates to a period long before modern civilization, when humans had little in the way of protection from the natural elements. In addition to shelter and fire, food represented the most basic need. Hunter-gatherers would track creatures such as mammoth and elephants for long periods of time.