Tijuana — the melting pot of Mexico, the gateway to the U.S., the armpit of Baja California. Two million souls struggle for survival, each searching for a way to become ... something, anything better. Fate brings a few strangers together one night in a crowded taxi rojo. When the red taxi crashes down a canyon, it creates a connection between the passengers that, like theTijuana — the melting pot of Mexico, the gateway to the U.S., the armpit of Baja California. Two million souls struggle for survival, each searching for a way to become ... something, anything better. Fate brings a few strangers together one night in a crowded taxi rojo. When the red taxi crashes down a canyon, it creates a connection between the passengers that, like the international border within sight of the crash, draws a line between triumph and defeat, hopelessness and perseverance, life and death.Boyfriends Rigo and Cristian confront their demons when a supposedly innocuous tryst gets out of control. Pancha looks for love in a complex world of ambiguous gender and sexual identity. Toni’s biggest problem is self-acceptance in a culture that has ingrained in him the idea that real men are macho and self-sufficient. Julia’s faith is challenged as she toils to make a living and support her disabled sister, while feeling paralyzed by her sense of responsibility and lingering guilt. Even in Tijuana, light can be found in the darkness. Facing fears and giving of oneself pave the road to strength and freedom, while stubbornness and denial lead only to demise.Erik Orrantia is the Lambda Literary Award winning author of Normal Miguel (Cheyenne Publishing, 2010) and The Equinox Convergence (Etopia Press, 2011). He brings you a first-hand view of life on the south side of the world’s busiest international border crossing ... in Taxi Rojo....
|Number of Pages||:||220 Pages|
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Taxi Rojo Reviews
Erik Orrantia is one of a handful of authors in gay fiction with whose writing I connected almost immediately when I read and reviewed his Lambda Literary Award winning debut novel Normal Miguel (Bristlecone Pine Press; Cheyenne Publishing, 2010) for Rainbow Reviews. His is an evocative and fluid voice and from this author I have come to expect good writing, an intuitive understanding of his adopted home of Mexico and always, always extremely well written and developed characters. Mr. Orrantia delivers all of this in his third novel Taxi Rojo a multi-layered “tale of triumph and defeat, hopelessness and perseverance, life and death.”Six strangers enter a red taxi in Tijuana late one evening, each preoccupied with their own thoughts and lives as they share a ride home to the borough of Playas. There’s Julia an exhausted single mother who also takes care of her disabled sister returning from the other side of the border where she works as a house cleaner for an affluent American family. Pancha, named Fransisco by his mother at birth, a drag queen has finished performing for the evening and is on her way to her boyfriend’s home. Rigo and Toni are returning from their clandestine hook-up and eager to get back to their respective lives, and an unnamed older gentleman who enters the taxi with his much younger companion. When the taxi plunges over a cliff, two are left dead, one has gone missing, two are injured and two walk away relatively unharmed. The close call with death becomes a life altering experience for several that survive, and the accident binds these strangers to each other as they search for the identity of one of the passengers that perished.The complete review of Taxi Rojo by Erik Orrantia is available at Indie Reviews.
4.5/5.0Taxi Rojo is my first read by Erik Orrantia. The setting is Tijuana, Mexico. That right there is one of the reasons this book grabbed my attention. For me, the setting alone presented many wonderful possibilities for this story, and I couldn't wait to meet Orrantia's characters.With Taxi Rojo, Orrantia creates that combination of LGBT fiction with romance/love stories that I seem to enjoy so much these days. And yes, if the definition of romance is for couples to find a happily ever after, there are at least two full-fledged romances and the beginning of another one in Taxi Rojo. Of course these are no cookie cutter romances, gay or otherwise. Orrantia's characters are everyday people struggling to survive in a place where survival is the word of the day, and their romances are not fantasy filled, but take place as they struggle with the harsh realities of every day concerns. I think of these as reality-based romances.The story begins when six strangers share a taxi from downtown to Playas, a neighborhood in Tijuana, Mexico. While on their way, there is a tragic accident where the driver and a passenger are killed. The passenger is a gay old man who is found with no wallet or identification. The rest of the passengers survive and forge a bond through this terrible experience that changes their lives.Orrantia highlights each central character from their individual points of view beginning with Pancha/Pancho, a transvestite and performer who dreams of finding a man who will accept her for whom she is. She's just not sure that her long-term lover Eduardo is that man. Julia is a poor, guilt-ridden, hardworking woman that lives for her family but has allowed herself to become a doormat, and needs a change in her life. Through Julia's character, Orrantia also makes the argument and shows the need and growing frustrations that comes from the daily struggle of having to cross that border on a daily basis to make a living. Rigoverto, Cristian and Toni's lives become intertwined when, in the evening of the accident, Rigo and Toni hook up while Rigo's partner Cristian is away. Rigo and Cris confront two conflicts in this story; dishonesty/lack of trust due to Rigo's lies and a more serious conflict that arises as a result of medical testing that will affect Cris and Rigo's lives forever. In the meantime, Toni's denial of his sexuality is as wide as the River Nile. There's a lot of denial going on in this story and all the characters seem to rationalize their actions in one way or another until the accident takes place. Afterwards, most of Orrantia's characters work through the denial, rationalization, and conflicts, while others can't come to terms with reality and cross the line. On a personal note, I enjoyed all the stories but must admit that Pancha and Eduardo's romance became my favorite and particularly like the queer twist that Orrantia brought to their happy ending.Although there are multiple points of view used in Taxi Rojo, Orrantia delivers a tight narrative by using the bond established by the characters through the accident and the old man's death. As the setting, Tijuana is incorporated into the story so seamlessly that it almost becomes another character that the author explores to its fullest extent with all its gritty flaws exposed. There are happy endings in Taxi Rojo, moments that may seem to be just a bit too happy or convenient in the end. But in my opinion if anybody deserved happy moments and happy endings, these characters with their ordinary lives and struggles, did. Well done!Complete review at Impressions of a Reader
Wanted it to go on, sorry to finish it.
Lambda Award winning author Erik Orrantia delivers a unique study of overcoming adversities set in the teeming south-of-the-boarder city of Tijuana. Caught in the vortex of two million souls struggling for a better life, fate brings six people together in the back of a taxi rojo. The taxi crashes down a canyon, killing two and connecting the survivors in ways that will dramatically affect each of their lives. The story follows the lives and hardships of Pancha, a drag queen looking for love while performing at the El Taurino bar; Rigo and Cristian, gay partners in a loving but open relationship in a city where HIV is rampant; Toni, the handsome bi man who uses his looks to dominate others; Derek, the young hustler out to steal whatever he can from whoever he can; and Julia, who works as a domestic for an American family across the boarder in order to support her daughter and disabled sister. The more they battle to put the crash behind them, the more it brings them together.This is a story of unheroic people struggling to overcome everyday problems. It takes a studied look at important social issues like fidelity, wrestling with identity, self-sacrifice, and finding love where you least expect it. Orrantia skillfully weaves these commonplace lives together in a way that showcases these important and interesting issues. In his capable hands, these characters become real. The reader feels their heartache and their joy. The characters and problems seem so common, that they touch something deep in the reader, because we all at one time or another battle with these same burdens.The one character I’ve yet to mention is the city of Tijuana. Orrantia has a gift for drawing the reader into the setting. You feel the grittiness of the town, smell the corn tortillas on the grill, hear the arrogant laughter of macho men, and feel the danger of walking the streets at night. The descriptions are vivid and real.Because these characters seem so ordinary, it took a long time to warm up to them. The story moves along on a low flame for much of the book, drawing the reader in gradually. When the pot finally boils over, the reader realizes how far the story had progressed, without seeming to move at all. Coincidence, I feel, plays too big a role in resolving the character’s problems. I would like to have seen more planned action from the protagonists in working through their issues. That aside, I can recommend this entertaining story. This book was reviewed by Alan Chin for The Book Breeze. You can learn more about Alan Chin and his writing at: http://AlanChinWriter.blogspot.com.
2012 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention (5* from at least 1 judge)