Marcial Lafuente Estefanía, the Louis L’Mour of Mexico

In the pulp days, one could find the latest Nightstand, Bedstand, Midwood, Pocket, Gold Medal, Saber, etc., at the thousands of newstsands in every major city across the country; these stands sold newspapers, magazines and books (the Nightstands were always classified as magazines, not novels).

The newsstand is now a rarity, and they seldom carry paperback books ecept for racks with popular mass market titles. Not so in Mexico. While in Tijuana, we noticed newsstands on every corner, carrying a variety of newspapers and pornographic comics and little magazines, as well stacks of western novels by one Marcial Lafueente Estefania. Hundreds of them.

Estefania, 1903-1984, was the son of journalist and writer Federico Lafuente , author of  The Ballad of Don Quixote (1916).  .  The Spanish Civil War  was the foundation of his writing: during his incarceration by the government, he claims to have written his first novel on toilet paper with a stylus.  His two sons helped him write his books toward the end of his life, and he did one serious novel that flopped.

He’s the Louis L’Amour of Spanish western novels,m pumping out one a week, hundreds if not thousands of these short genre novels — they all tend to be in the 90-100 page range. What we found interesting is how most of them are printed: with thin glossy covers much like the paper once used by Fabian/Saber/Vega Books.

How are they? We don’t read Spanish so we don’t know, but a quick glance, they look like they have breezy, fast-paced prose.

Many of the copies we saw in Tijuana looked water damaged and used, and were priced lower than the ones that looked new. Seems they practice was (still is?) that one could return these books for a low price and get another; this way, they never knew how many people read these books, but they were and still are quite popular, the way Louis L’Amour still is now.

21 Responses to “Marcial Lafuente Estefanía, the Louis L’Mour of Mexico”

  1. In NYC, you can see these and other similar titles for sale in newstands that inhabit the subway stations, but oddly I don’t think I’ve ever seen them above ground

  2. Marcial Lafuente Estefanía is a Spaniard and his novels were published in Spain and distributed/reprinted all over Latin America. He died many years ago, but his sons keep publishing new titles under his name. Lafuente was one of many Spanish authors who wrote popular fiction during the Franco years, selling books by the hundreds of thousands. The books became known as “bolsilibros” (short for pocket book) because they fit in the back pocket of a pant. Most authors adopted Anglo-sounding names because of their close affiliation with left-wing parties as well as to avoid censorship from the Franco regime. The Western was one of the most popular genres, but they covered everything from romance, sleaze, science fiction, horror and crime.

    Another popular bolsilibro author who publishes to this day is Francisco González Ledesma. Back in the day, he wrote under the nom-de-plume “Silver Kane”. His first novel, published under his real name, was praised by W. Somerset Maugham, among others, but never saw the light of day due to the Francoist censorship. These days, he’s a highly-praised crime fiction writer in Spain, almost on a par with Manuel Vázquez Montalbán.

  3. Lillian Says:

    Estoy buscando libros de Marcial Lafuente Estefania. ? donde puedo encontrarlos ?

  4. Tengo una coleccion de mas de 5000 ejemplares desde Marcial lafuente,Silver kane,Key lueger,coleccion cuatreros,Dan Winchester,Coleccion Oeste,Peter Colt,Clark Carrado y muchos mas.
    NO LOS VENDO LOS INTERCAMBIO
    jaimesfm99@yahoo.com

  5. Hello,
    I’m from the Bronx, 163rd and Southern Boulevard and I found a street vendor selling Marcial Lafuente Estefania at two novelas for a $1.00! I saw the colorful covers and decided to ask and then bought two: El Matrimonio De La Residencia with a cover depicting Charles Bronson (Lucky buy); and La Carrera De Tres Millas with a cover that may be Burt Reynolds (but not sure). Anyway – try in front of the No. 19 Bus stop near the beauty shop. Good Luck!

    Norma.

  6. Disappointed Says:

    September 16, 2011: You bought up the whole batch of Marcial Lafuente Estefania tiny magazines from an elderly couple selling them at 163rd and Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY after I posted a comment here on Wednesday. You went and bought up all 40 to 50 novelas. I was planning on buying two more but you got them all – are you going to sell them at EBay? for a lot of money? I will never post on your sight again.

  7. My Spanish grandfather lived in Connecticut from the 1950s to the1980s, and he had a lot of these. I doubt they were sold in CT, since there weren’t so many Spaniards/Latinos there then; he probably either got them from NYC, or brought them back from trips to Spain.
    I’ll bet they’re of a 10th-grade reading level. I should get one to expand my Spanish proficiency.

  8. Lillian Agosto Says:

    Necesito saber donde puedo comprar novelas de Marcial Lafuente. Muchas gracias por su ayuda
    Lillian Agosto

  9. Cara Cilento Says:

    I have Estefania books I need to sell. I have 3 on eBay as of today. They are in acceptable condition..definitely read and had multiple owners. I have some rurales de Texas.

  10. I have Estefania books to sell. They are in acceptable condition as they are old and have had many owners. I also have Rurales de Texas. I have three on ebay as of now if you want to see.

  11. Elena de Casanova Says:

    Es para Manolo. Donde vives y en cuanto vendes los 50 titulos de novela Estefania. Estoy interesada. Son para enviar a Miami. Mi email es elenacrc@gmail.com

  12. Hi – both my parents LOVE these paperbacks by Estefania. They’ve been reading them for over 30 years. I’d like to buy them a stack but they are not easy to find. Do you have any suggestions, aside from ebay or Amazon?

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  14. Firmin Dhooge Says:

    What’s the price of these short western stories in Spanish, and how can I buy them ? I live in Belgium.

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