Are we responsible for the results of our acts?
Set amid the anarchy and violence of 1916 Chihuahua, what appears to be an off-hand question posed to Frank Holloway is one that will haunt the reader of Playing for Pancho Villa.
Frank, a New Mexico miner seeks no more than to “have an adventure” and obtain some relief from mercury poisoning. Mounted on his mare, Tosca, Frank’s accidental encounter with a Mexican soldier stealing goats — and his seemingly responsible act — sets in motion a tragic chain of events, for himself and for those he comes to love.
Frank will have his adventure, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting the horrors of war, but more importantly, he and his random acquaintances — Doña Mariana bravely coming to grips with her personal loss; the philosophical Juan-Carlos; the enigmatic Mr. Wu; and the damaged Sofía are forced to take actions that will profoundly affect all of them. They will all bear the responsibility for their love for one another.
Although Playing for Pancho Villa is set in a time and place where even an impromptu piano recital had life and death consequences, Frank is no different than any of us. He must shoulder the heavy burden for the unforeseen results of one’s actions, even when the result is love.