Cibolero by Kermit Lopez
(iUniverse / 0-595-43567-8 / August 2007 / 182 pages / $13.95)
Add Kermit Lopez to the list of competent professionals. His second book, and the first with iUniverse, is relatively indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. This is a quality that is always appreciated and awarded at iUBR. With its relatively low error count, well-designed cover, and competent storyline, Cibolero deserves whatever sales attention it gets. The mystery at this point is why has his first book not attained more recognition? The Prodigy (1st Books, 1999) is twice as long and in a different genre than Cibolero. Is that the reason? Visit the author's website and you will see that it has been unusually designed, too.
Kermit has researched his ancestors who lived in New Mexico in the tempestuous days just prior to statehood and produced a new spin on the old Western drama. The plot revolves around a poor farmer and ex-cibolero whose teenage daughter is kidnapped by a gang of thuggish Texas Rangers. In his younger days. Antonio Baca had been a buffalo hunter, a dangerous job fit only for a strong, young, single man. When his daughter Elena is taken after an attack on his family in his absence, Antonio retrieves his retired buffalo lance and begins the task of tracking The Rangers back into Texas territory, in hope of saving his daughter. The plot contains many flashbacks into Baca's earlier days, explaining the many ramifications of the tenuous relationships between the Spanish-speaking New Mexicans, native Indians, and the white settlers emerging from the east.
There is only one critical issue I have with Cibolero, and it is truly a small nitpick. Probably because of the short length of the book, the specific intent of the book, as well as the designation of its target readership, seems to leave me wanting just a little more in the way of descriptive depth. As you can read in my other reviews of Cibolero, I found it just a bit difficult to read the book and smoothly absorb its dialog and ruminations. I compared the book to the movie Soldier Blue because Mr. Lopez is attempting to show an accurate view of a dark period in U.S. history. Like that movie, Cibolero's same weakness seems to stem from the compromises it must make to reach its target audience, leaving many characters drawn in a two-dimensional manner. I think I would have preferred the story to be told more in the manner of the book and movie, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Cibolero is a story about Mexicans, not Indians, but I cannot help but feel that many of the same emotions over a twisted history have spawned both of these delicate Western tales.
Kermit Lopez is obviously a credit to the iUniverse field of authors. Cibolero is a well thought out and composed history lesson, and a story that has not been often told. It seems surprising that there is such a gap in genre and release date between The Prodigy and Cibolero. It really makes me wonder how good that first book might be.