The intent behind Jorge G. Castaneda’s Manana Forever
? mirrors John Ralston Saul’s Reflections of a Siamese Twin---it’s an intellectual excursion into national identity so as to set contemporary national priorities. Like former Canadian vicar general and native Ottawan Saul, Castaneda (both Jorge and his father served on different Mexican presidents’ cabinets) boasts Mexico City federal district insider status. But Manana Forever
? is much less chatty than Siamese Twin
and is certainly not a primer (that’s Enrique Krauze’s Mexico: Biography of Power
). Manana Forever
? instead extrapolates upon Mexican sociological and psychological dynamics and demands some familiarity with the sweep of Mexican history. For savvy readers, certain case studies---analysis of the “old” middle class in Ciudad Madero; profile of pop star Juan Gabriel (“Juanga”)---are sure to engage. Castaneda’s insights into native Mexican insularity and paranoia enlighten--- sometimes brilliantly. Otherwise, take two aspirin.