Tears of the Trufflepig takes place in the near future, with a speculative outlook that is uncomfortably close to contemporary reality. Fernando A. Flores's debut novel is set along the Texas-Mexico border, scarred by two long walls. Esteban Bellacosa, an equipment broker, finds himself in several baffling situations over the course of a few days, even by standards of "strange" life along the border. A large piece of equipment disappears into thin air; his brother is targeted by a syndicate needing an endless supply of shrunken heads for collectors; criminal enterprises are fighting violent turf wars; and a gonzo journalist named Paco Herbert wants Bellacosa to be his wingman as he investigates the black market.
In this future, cartels operating along the border handle grotesque contraband of every stripe. In addition to (newly) shrunken heads, extinct animals are re-created in a process known as "filtering." They're worn as clothing and served at private, debauched dinner parties. The frenzied desire for filtered animals is leading to more insidious filtering attempts: mythical animals and, possibly, humans. The co-dependency of wealth and greed results in power struggles that benefit no one. "Once any kind of power is discovered, the thing that follows is the usurping of it," Bellacosa says. Closing off borders is ineffective, this story makes clear, because the reality is that "everything's woven closer" than believed. Tears of the Trufflepig is an absurdist tale pointing out the "pipeline of consequences" of unchecked greed and corrupt power. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.