Out of Their Minds

The Incredible and (Sometimes) Sad Story of Ramon and Cornelio



By: Luis Humberto Crosthwaite
Illustrator: Francisco Delgado
Translator: John Byrd

The deal was simple: God would be the silent partner in the norteño band that Cornelio had started with his best friend Ramon.

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Description

The deal was simple: God would be the silent partner in the norteño band that Cornelio had started with his best friend Ramon.

"Hey, what's up, come a little closer, I have something to tell you," God said to Cornelio. The deal was simple: God would be the silent partner in the norteño band that Cornelio had started with his best friend Ramon. Cornelio would sing and play the bajo sexto, Ramon the accordion, and God would write the songs. Cornelio agreed; he would sell his soul to God.

Success and disaster followed. The band went from playing bars in Tijuana to playing the biggest stadiums in Mexico. Women started fan clubs and motorcycle gangs dedicated to their heroes Ramon and Cornelio. It seemed to Cornelio and Ramon that they had everything, but fame was a cruel mistress.

Music weaves its way in and out of Out of Their Minds. Enjoy some of the music from the book on Spotify:

Luis Humberto Crosthwaite lives and works in the Tijuana/San Diego metroplex. He is the author of five novels, and his fiction has garnered critical attention for his ability to express the complexities of living on the US/Mexico border. He writes a weekly column for The San Diego Union Tribune.

2 reviews for Out of Their Minds

  1. Gustavo Arellano, OC Weekly editor, author of ¡Ask a Mexican!
    “Cinco Puntos’ translation of this Mexican cult classic is the wisest American appropriation of south-of-the-border smarts since the taco. The rip-roaring allegory of Mexican music legends reads like Voltaire drunk on tequila.”

  2. Shelf Awareness
    “Luis Humberto Crosthwaite’s Out of Their Minds, a novel first published in Spanish in 2001, is a motley collection of fictional interviews, dreams, dialogues and sketches. It’s centered on Ramón and Cornelio, a couple of bored kids in Tijuana with a bajo sexto and an accordion. Then God speaks to Cornelio, offering to write his songs for him, and the duo known as los Relampagos de Agosto (a sly reference to Jorge Ibargüengoitia’s satiric The Lightning of August?) takes off.

    Greeted onstage by screaming women throwing underwear, their world explodes in undreamed-of decadence and groupies. Fast forward a few years, though, and Ramón and Cornelio’s lives are sadly riddled with drugs and superficiality. Unsurprisingly, the two lifelong friends no longer see eye to eye, and the rock-and-roll lifestyle has dimmed their fire. Where they used to lie awake at night and discuss the perfect girlfriend (she must have pretty feet), now their wives have left them and Ramón talks to his accordion instead.

    In the ever-shifting perspective of this strange world, where God worries about producing fresh material (“he doesn’t want to be judged as a repetitive God, with few ideas”) while a friend of Cornelio dies over and over again, the duo’s career arc clearly references the Beatles–but places them in Mexico’s norteño music scene. Wry, lyrical and frequently funny, the story of Ramón and Cornelio is indeed incredible and sometimes sad; but the music plays on and we continue to revel in it.
    –Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

    Discover: A bizarre and entertaining tale of two Mexican norteño musicians guided by God–and the price they pay for their fame.”

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