One of Charles Bowden’s earliest books, Red Line powerfully conveys a desert civilization careening over the edge—and decaying at its center. Bowden’s quest for the literal and figurative truth behind the assassination of a murderous border-town drug dealer becomes a meditation on the glories of the desert landscape, the squalors of the society that threatens it, and the contradictions inherent in trying to save it.
“A quintessentially American vision. . . . At its best, Red Line can read like an original synthesis of Peter Matthiessen and William Burroughs. . . . Rarely has the meeting of north and south along the American-Mexican frontier been described so well or so ruthlessly.”
—David Rieff, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Charles Bowden’s Red Line is a look at America through the window of the Southwest. His vision is as nasty, peculiar, brutal, as it is intriguing and, perhaps, accurate. Bowden offers consciousness rather than consolation, but in order to do anything about our nightmares we must take a cold look and Red Line casts the coldest eye in recent memory.”
“Charles Bowden is our new poet laureate of hunger and its dark everlasting mysteries. He is our best chronicler of the hot and restless nights of violence, the unendangered wickedness that roams the badlands of the Southwest, the formless dreams of postmodern America.”
“The Southwest as portrayed in this Kerouac-esque odyssey betokening the death of the American frontier spirit is a landscape of broken dreams, violence, uprooted lives, and fallen idols. . . . We meet real estate developers, sullen Indians, assorted castoffs, a Vietnam vet, a rogue archaeologist and, through historical flashbacks, gold-crazed 49ers. . . . This vista of narrow greed, diminished expectations, and despoliation of nature sizzles with the harsh, unrelenting glare of a hyperrealist painting.”