‘Texas: The First Ten Years of Bruneville’ by Carmen Boullosa


From Words Without Borders:

Eleven years have passed since the town of Bruneville was founded on the banks of the Rio Bravo, just a few miles up-river from the Gulf. It was named after Ciudad Castaño, the legendary shining city to the northwest, which was razed by the Apaches. In appropriating the name, Stealman aimed to trade on the sterling quality of the original.

At its founding, the following were present (without a shadow of a doubt):

1) Stealman, the lawyer
2) Kenedy, who owned the cotton plantation
3) Judge Gold (back then he was plain Gold, he still hadn’t earned the nickname Judge)
4) Minister Fear, his first wife, and their daughter Esther (may the latter two rest in peace)
5) A pioneer named King.

King had a royal name, though when he’d arrived in Mexico he hadn’t a penny, didn’t own even a snake. But he was a master of chicanery. When some locals lent him low-grade land to use for seven years, it took him only a few months to emerge as the legitimate owner of immense tracts, on which it seemed to rain cattle from the clouds, as if they were a gift from god. But there was nothing remotely miraculous about the way King made his fortune. He was as good a trickster as any magician with a false-bottomed top hat. If King had been Catholic (as he claimed to be in the contract he signed with the Mexicans), the archdiocese would have been able to build a cathedral with the fortune he’d have to have given them as penance for his sins.

In 1848 King wasn’t the only one who went looking for a fortune, convinced that “Americans” had the right to take what belonged to the North Mexicans by whatever means necessary, fair or foul.

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