The Country of Innocence by Eric Fisher Stone is the surreal, literary novel about a strange place named Mexas, where the Southwest has become one giant state, and animals and humans can converse with each other. After moving to Mazatlán on the Pacific coast, the Montoya are taunted by demonic iguanas, and Mateo Montoya must travel the long distance to Mazatlán to reach his family, an epic journey that becomes increasingly strange and perilous.
What makes The Country of Innocence unique, and effective, is that even with its absurd and surreal premise, the prose itself is straightforward, and the characters don’t react with alarm over this strange environment. This is just life as it comes in the world of Stone’s picturesque fantasy. This enhances the reality and plausibility of the book, and helps the reader become immersed in the story, even as the fantasy becomes more and more fantastical. There’s no wink-wink snark here. The Country of Innocence is earnest and carefully written.
This is a fantasy epic with a literary bent – echoing Homer’s Odyssey – exploring notions of consciousness, linguistics, culture clashes, and Stone’s own philosophy, without being overly pedantic. It’s heavily psychedelic and inventive, but still manages to be grounded. Stone’s narrative is plainly fun. A truly unique experience.