The narrator of this tale is a young man whose mother has just died. He is violent, urged on by the voice of his grandfather, a primitive. He is a murderer, a harsh uncaring soul eager to prove his strength at any cost. He is used by a woman to kill her lover, then flees to a remote part of Baja Mexico. It is there that the action of the tale ensues. Cancion is a sleepy place, but one in which the future is the prize in a war between a mafia-like developer and the anarcho-literary types who want to keep the place the way it is. He finds solace in his own company, but one day catches a glimpse of the don’s niece and is smitten. He becomes a dog fighter while there, putting his brutality to the test in a spectator sport in which men do battle with canines, sometimes animals that have been trained for viciousness. This is a role that matters in Cancion, where a dog-fighter is considered a sort of matador, a respected one. The novel is brutal. There is violence aplenty, and it is difficult to conjure too much empathy for this near-sociopath. But the harshness of the narrator’s life provides the dark background against which the rays of emerging humanity shine. He lives in a complex near a homosexual dentist, forms friendships with the town’s famous writer, teaches young men and begins to care about the town. He also falls in love. There is lyricism in the writing that enhances this journey. I would not recommend this to anyone of tender sensibility. But for those with a strong stomach, it was a worthwhile journey.