If the Coen brothers ever made it south of the border, they might come up with a tale like Paraiso. The dark side of paradise, the perversities of Peter Pan, a tangled web of wealthy family disfunction imported from Philadelphia... all set against the perilous backdrop of a spectacular, lawless, unforgiving desert and served up noir with a spicy sense of humor.
Peter and Wendy—their mother chose the names—felt as close as twins, despite their difference in age. As teens, they fled their wealthy Philadelphia home in the family station wagon and headed for Mexico, only to be discovered sleeping in the car on the banks of the Mississippi, in Huck Finn country. Now, many years later, estranged by an apparent betrayal as profound as their family’s dysfunction, the two live separate lives, Peter as an editor in New York, Wendy as an edgy sports photographer with a taste for risk. With a new book out and an invitation to Los Cabos, she drives the Mercedes inherited from their father to Baja California, finally completing the trip begun twenty years earlier.
But when the engine fails near a small town named Paraíso—Paradise—she lingers, exploring its underside in an affair with a dangerous man and, all too suddenly, becoming witness to a vicious crime. Meanwhile, in New York, Peter can’t help but think of Wendy. When, from his apartment in lower Manhattan, he watches the Twin Towers fall on a beautiful September day, he knows it’s time to leave his comfortable life, go find Wendy, and make peace with his long-lost sister. A noirish tale reminiscent of David Lynch and the Coen brothers, Paraíso traces the journey from a mother’s dark secret to a place where love, and even perfect love, is possible.
Quotes from the book:
"The names our mother had given us showed pretty clearly what was going on in her mind at the time we were born, or at least the name she gave my sister did. I was Peter. Peter by itself had no real significance, just one of our father’s two middle names. It was when my sister came along and she named her Wendy that her state of mind became clear. Peter and Wendy, in Never Land, on the Isle of Lost Children. Oddly enough, I always loved the idea (pg29)."