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“Tiro al vuelo”, a novel about Tlayecac

Chacho is a teenager from Mexico City, shy, insecure, but also a bit proud, spoiled and paranoid. Chacho often accompanies his father to hunt huilotas in Tlayecac, but only as a “morralero” (porter). During the Easter holidays Chacho will spend the whole week in Tlayecac to learn how to hunt. What Chacho does not know yet is that during those holidays he would not only learn how to hunt but also: he would have his first kiss, his first enemy to death and the first great adventure that would change his destiny for life.

This is the plot of “Tiro al vuelo” (A shot in the air), a youthful novel written by Alejandro Volnié in 2010, and is, if not the first, one of the first novels to be developed almost entirely in Tlayecac.

During the development of “Tiro al vuelo”, Volnié mentions details that show that he knows this town: the sorghum already threshed in spring, the ravine and its innumerable pools, the road between Tlayecac and Xalostoc, the proximity to Cuautla, the tecorrales (stone walls) of the houses, the huizacheras (bushes with thorns) and even the iguanas that always go out to sunbathe in the morning in the ravine.

Sunset in Tlayecac. Photo by Roberto.

“The path we followed crossed through the remains of two sorghum fields, already very flat and trampled by cattle … right where that path began, because before we followed the edge of the dirt road that led from Tlayecac to Xalostoc.”

Although the novel was published in 2010, the Tlayecac described is much older, perhaps from the 70’s or 80’s: the majority of the houses were defended by a tecorral, the abundance of huilotas, quails and rabbits in the fields, the need to go to the ravine to wash clothes, the lack of electricity and the extremely traditional nature of its inhabitants.

The precision of his descriptions makes one think that his novel has something autobiographical about it, that part of his story is real and that even David, Mario and Magdalena, the family that receives him in Tlayecac in the novel, can also be real and close to the writer. The novel could therefore be part of a story of his own adolescence, altered and augmented by the years and creativity.

“Tiro al vuelo” is generally a fluid, easy-to-read, enjoyable novel without a complex plot; very universal, in Chacho’s words:

“The story I lived in Tlayecac could have happened equally inside my school, perhaps without machetes or shotguns, but in such similar conditions that it would have been enough to change the names of the actors so that the plot could not be distinguished from the one I lived in that holy week.”

Where to read Tiro al vuelo

  • Google books. It has a small part of the book to read for free, ideal to get a better idea.
  • You can buy the paper version ($160) and the digital version ($38) for those who are not in Mexico or have a kindle.
  • 12 Editorial. Publisher of this book. You can buy the book in paper ($170) and digital ($3).
  • iTunes. For those who have an iPhone or other Apple product ($45).

More about Tiro al vuelo

Number of pages: 102.
First edition: December 10, 2010.
ISBN: 978-607-706-023-9.
If you like it you can also read: “Gato pardo” and “2085” by the same author.

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