Myth of Pterygium
by Diego Gerard Morrison
Autumn House Press

"Let’s just say that the only unbearable thing is that nothing is unbearable."

This debut novel follows a poet who is losing his sight to pterygium, a disease in which fleshy tissue grows from the corner of the eye. In the case of the poet, called Arthur by his pregnant wife in a nod to Rimbaud, the infection is quickly affecting his sight. Set in a nearly dystopian Mexico City, the poet’s life unravels as he attempts to balance the upcoming birth of his daughter, a dwindling bank account, a demanding client he calls the Would-be-Writer, and an ever-growing eye infection. The poet finds himself desperate. His only solution is to go into the family business. However, he is conflicted. His family supplies ammunition to the corrupt government and the drug cartels. Though he is appalled that this contributes to the growing murders in Mexico, he has no choice but to work for his mother and brother. To make matters worse, his mother’s psychic predicts a death in the family, a prediction that only adds to the poet’s anxiety.

One of the first things one notices about this short novel is its unusual beginning chapters which grow in length from a one-sentence first chapter to full pages. This technique effectively mirrors the protagonist’s growing eye infection, his wife’s growing belly, his growing debts, the city’s growing pollution, and the country’s growing death tolls. Even with the novel’s numerous heavy subjects, the author installs a sense of humor and a philosophical bent throughout the book. Morrison’s work is an intriguing look into the mind of one facing the crisis of having to compromise his moral convictions to provide for his wife and soon-to-be-born daughter. This must-read is a moving story with an intriguing plot, a distinctive setting, and an unforgettable cast of characters.

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