Monday, October 18, 2010

Panopticon-David Bajo

David Bajo
Unbridled, Oct 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9781609530020

Their newspaper is folding in a few days leaving workers exploring what to do in the future. However, they are assigned their final stories by managing editor Gina before the paper ends its run on the California-Mexico border. None of them know what they are covering except that it is big and will come together eventually though they only have a few days to finish their last hurrah.

Reporter Aaron Klinsman and photographer Rita Valdez travel to an empty room at the Motel San Ysidro in which towels cover the mirrors, black tape strips cover the doorknobs, and the outline of a woman's body is imprinted on the bed sheets. Confused they continue their snooping with reporter Oscar Medem joining them. As the trio struggle to comprehend what they are seeking, they follow clues in Tijuana and Otay though remaining ignorant to what it leads to except they know it ties to the femincide murders that haunted Juarez for over a decade and has apparently come to the California border towns with a lethal vengeance. With the clues beginning to click together, Aaron, Rita and Oscar compare what is going on to the male Luchadors who wear masks all the time to hide their faces as opposed to their female counterparts who takes theirs off outside the ring for as Mil mascaras says “what we observe becomes us”.

Not for everyone, Panopticon is an odd intricate journalist thriller with various seemingly at first disconnected coils. The lead trio supported by a powerful cast on both sides of the border makes the story line feel genuine as each slowly learns the underlying truth. Set on the dangerous border where guns flow illegally from the north, fans who relish something radically different and remain patient to learn how the coils connect will want to read David Bajo’s fascinating look at modern times when nothing remains private even the visages of the male Luchadors.

Harriet Klausner

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