|About the Book|
Kino listens to music that nobody else can hear. Music descends upon this impoverished pearl diver from the ancestral voices inside his head. His people had once been great makers of song so that everything they ever thought or did or heard became a song, and Kino hears this “Song of the Family.”Kino enjoys his contented life of meek expectation along the Gulf coast of Baja Sur California, Mexico. “It is good not to want a thing too much,” he says, so he rejoices in the small pleasures of life: eating hot corncakes- drinking pulque (fermented agave)- enjoying marital comfort with Juana, and bouncing little Coyotito upon his knee. Kino’s life is balanced, and the music soothes and reassures.Enter a scorpion that threatens the Song of the Family. “The wind blew freshly into the estuary, a nervous, restless wind, with the smell of storm on its breath and there was a change and uneasiness in the air.”This novella is a parable about a pearl of great price which has its own melody. A pearl forms when an oyster protects itself from the grain of sand lodged like a splinter within its muscles. The oyster encases the irritant with layers of hard nacre, resulting in the pearl. In the same way, humans grow calloused skins to protect themselves against the world.The People of the Gulf of California often see mirages created by differences in air density when desert air collides with cold water. This “copper haziness” that shimmers along the surface of the water has made them skeptical of how their senses interpret the material world. “There is no certainty in seeing, no proof that what you saw was there or was not there.”When a diver discovers a pearl, it means the gods are giving him “a little pat on the back.” But the gods are deceptive, and it’s hard for even a pearl diver to tell the difference between pearls and scorpions-- or to decipher the melody of triumph from the wail of lamentation.