The Rag Doll Plagues

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

THE RAG DOLL PLAGUES is divided into three books. In book 1, Gregorio Revueltas, sent by his king to improve health conditions in seventeenth century Mexico, encounters a plague that threatens to depopulate the colony and weaken Spain’s empire. Revolted by the primitive savagery and amorality of the colonials, Revueltas nevertheless grows to care for them and eventually sees himself as a Mexican. Important to this transformation is his vision of two men who often appear to guide his efforts.

In book 2 a young California doctor, Gregory Revueltas, falls in love with Sandra Spear, a hemophiliac actress. As a result of a transfusion, she develops AIDS during the first years after its identification. Seeking help, he returns with her to Old Mexico where he and Sandra rediscover the ancient Mexican/Indian spiritual traditions that help her to think of death as a positive transformation, traditions that seem verified in Gregory’s guiding visions of his ancestor, Gregorio.

Book 3 takes place at the end of the twenty-first century in Lamex, an extrapolated administrative region that comprises most of western Mexico and the southwestern United States. Gregory Revueltas, state doctor, deals with frequent plagues that erupt from centers of organic pollution that have become living entities. He discovers that Mexicans from the highly polluted Mexico City area have developed a genetic mutation that makes their blood, given in transfusion, a cure for most lung ailments. He too is led by the visionary presence of his ancestor, Gregorio. At the end of this book, Revueltas, as narrator, reflects upon the multiple ironies of Mexicans’ new place in American civilization.

These stories offer an absorbing panoramic view of the continuing encounter of European and Native American and of English and Spanish-speaking cultures in the Americas.