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Having survived countless vexations, adventures, self-induced hardships, and brushes with a harsh destiny, Walt Long currently resides in Colorado with his family in relative bliss. All of the astounding incidents portrayed in his two novels are based upon fact…first-hand, indelible experiences.
Julie R Butler
on Oct. 05, 2010 :
Once I started reading The Travelers, I couldn’t stop. It is a riveting story about a topic that is even more pressing today than it was twenty years ago, when the events depicted in this novel take place. This tale uncovers the many underlying currents of the issue of illegal immigration, and Walt does a beautiful job of humanizing all of the diverse factions that are involved – from the hopeful immigrants, to the group of smugglers that comprised a mixed bag of opportunists and Good Samaritans, to the community in southern New Mexico whose citizens are inextricably entangled with it all.
Unfolding a deliciously full-bodied portrayal of one of those perceptive individuals who instinctively knows how to take advantage of the holes in any given system, the depiction of this main character’s inter-relationships within his community reveals how burred the line is between the “good” guys and the “bad.” Henry “Mickey” McAllister’s often cynical reading of human nature has served him well, as long as he remains aloof in his simplified bachelor’s reality. Yet, despite his mastery in navigating those blurred boundaries upon which society seeks to define itself, always self-confidant and fearless in the face of uncertainty, Mickey finds himself treading into what are, for him, murky waters, acting uncharacteristically, doing things that he never thought himself capable of, such as actually CARING.
The title of the book is indicative of the carefully neutral tone that the narration takes as it reveals the lives and perspectives of a bountiful cast of characters. The people who are so often referred to as “wetbacks” are, in the context of this story, travelers on arduous journeys from places where they were linked to the United States in ways that are difficult for us to come to terms with. Many of their stories make clear that their coming to this country is connected to the history of the United States’ hand in helping to create the harsh social situations they are escaping, and the people who are involved in aiding them in their travels are just as surprised as the reader might be to discover that a large portion of the travelers come from even farther away than our beleaguered neighbor just south of the border – that is, from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. Yet the narrator makes no judgments, giving equally careful attention to the concerns of individuals who are fearful of the consequences of allowing an unmitigated flow of undocumented people into the United States. It is left to the characters to pose their own questions about what factors may be motivating the anti-immigration movements, where legitimate fears converge with racism and xenephobia, and what the government’s role should be.
In The Travelers, Walt artfully weaves together the lives of many individuals, speaking with an easy-going lilt, including vivid details that make the story very real, crafting a tale that is moving, suspenseful, keenly sensitive, and always engaging. Such a complex issue as illegal immigration deserves just the kind of in-depth literary treatment that Walt Long offers from this uniquely intimate perspective.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)