Arizona’s book is Crossers, by Philip Caputo. Definitely not a book I would have chosen to read based on the book jacket (wait until we get to California–THAT’S a book I almost didn’t read despite the list) but I appreciate having read it. It takes place on the Arizona-Mexico border, and is either completely imaginary, in which case–why?, or is based to some degree on real life ranches and drug kingpins. For this urban/suburban girl, reading an account of a border ranch with immigrants and drug runners passing through was an introduction to a completely different world that I had absolutely no idea of. In my mind, border crossings are at airports and bridges, and one’s property isn’t so vast that it can’t all be seen in a single day (let alone “out one’s window”). I’m not a big fan of physical danger in my reading, and any book with drug runners and every character packing is going to have physical danger, but at least you can’t say it’s gratuitous. And my horizons were expanded, so all in all it was a good selection.
(I’ve mentioned before that I’d previously read The Yiddish policeman’s union, which takes place in Alaska. Not my favorite Michael Chabon novel, though; for that you need to go to The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.)