I met Daniel Hernandez a few years ago when he passing through Mexico City doing research for an article. At the time, he had just quit his job as a reporter for the L.A. Times, but continued to contribute frequently there and to the L.A. Weekly. Not long afterwards, he'd moved here, with a contract from Scribner's to do a book. I could tell from miles away that Daniel was bright and ambitious. Still, he was under thirty and, although his parents are Mexican, he had never lived here. I don't think many writers like to admit it, but we tend to be territorial about what we perceive as "our" subject matter. I wondered what Daniel thought he had to contribute to the discourse about el D.F.
The book, Down and Delirious in Mexico City, just came out and it's terrific. No one I know has gone as far and as deep into this labyrinthine, confusing and misunderstood city as quickly as Daniel. The emphasis of Down and Delirious is on youth culture, and it is the only book I know that paints such a complete portrait of the exhilaration and exasperation of being young here. The book is a mixture of passionate feeling and shrewd journalistic instinct, and in his research Daniel was willing to hang out in some of the darker corners of the city that many people who live their whole lives here never visit. It's an important addition to the library of anyone interested in contemporary Mexico City.
New Yorkers: This coming Thursday, April 14th, at 7 pm, at 420 Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, 1130 Amsterdam Avenue, Daniel will speak about the book along with various academics. There will be an after party at Cantina Royal at 58 North 3rd Street in Brooklyn. If you get there, give him un abrazo de mi parte.