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Cover of "In the City of Smoking Mirrors" featuring an illustration of a man and a photo of a city
February 2004
University of Arizona Press

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In the City of Smoking Mirrors

Albino Carrillo

Huitzilopochtli has returned. Aztec destroyer, god of sun and war. He of the hummingbird. Son of Coatlique, Our Lady of the Serpent Skin. But you can call him H. H. is reborn in the sprawling suburbs of an American metroplex in the late 20th century, a place where "the future is a cartoon of the future." Life in suburbia is hard for an Aztec god: H. falls in and out of love, works downtown as an oficinista, raises children and learns to command the awesome power of modern electronic media. Then one indifferent summer's day, H. is seriously wounded by the police — in a case of mistaken identity, of course — and faces death once more.

"In the City of Smoking Mirrors" relates H.'s adventures as he hovers between life and death, revisiting his homeland and ancestors. He issues letters and edicts — to the faithful, to his dead amigos — and chronicles his circumnavigation of the Land of the Dead and "what he saw there that made him write this book." In tantalizing verse that walks the edge of dream, Albino Carrillo takes readers on a lyrical exploration of a dark netherworld, a quest for hope in a universe overshadowed by impending doom — a place where "The demons you'll have to defeat on your inward journey / Are like so many little yellow hornets buzzing about / Window screens in summer, angry but looking / For anything sweet, any way out . . . ." Through the unforgettable persona of Huitzilopochtli, Carrillo shows us the transitory nature of our passions and wounds as he chisels a new headstone for our times.


Albino Carrillo earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at Arizona State University in 1993.

Praise for this book

"A post-apocalyptic vision of the world: a prophetic, surreal, and painfully visionary glimpse into a future that is already here."

Lauro Flores