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Minireview: Down the Rabbit Hole, by Juan Pablo Villalobos

Down the Rabbit Hole is a quirky, tragicomic tale, as told by a 7-year-old… who also happens to be the pampered and only child of a Mexican drug lord. It’s the story of a very strange and lonely childhood, where people getting shot is a normal occurrence, the only women around are either prostitutes or domestic help, and where you can get anything you want – except a normal childhood and play with other children. Tochtli, the boy in question, lives in a palatial mansion where his father indulges most of his whims (when he has time for it, from his gangsterly duties). Tochtli loves samurai stuff, so he gets that. Tochtli loves hats, so he now has a huge collection and choosing which hat to wear is an important decision. And now Tochtli has decided that he wants a Liberian pygmy hippopotamus for his private zoo.

Tochtli is an interesting viewpoint character. He’s smart, but he’s also a child and has been raised in very strange circumstances. His viewpoints are often amoral (to say the least), but he’s no monster, he is just a (pampered) precocious child.

Clocking in at less than 100 pages, it’s a very short book, but perhaps effective partly because of the compact form; there is no filler here. It veers between sadness and (black) comedy, and leaves the reader feeling more than a bit sorry for poor little Tochtli, despite his faults.

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