From an interview with Francisco Goldman on The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle:
You open the book with a story about wanting to learn how to drive in Mexico City. You've also lived in Brooklyn. Is it harder to drive in Mexico City?
I think it is. Like a lot of New Yorkers, I don't drive that much. The years I was with Aura—we'd go on road trips, go to the beach, whatever, we would rent a car, but around the city, like everybody else it was taxis, subways.
She did the driving.
She did the driving in Mexico City when we were down there. First of all, I found it completely overwhelming. How do you ever figure out where you're going? There are all these streets where you think you're on a one-way street but there's a lane that's not even clearly marked off where trolley cars come opposite the traffic—and if you don't know that in advance, you can just get crushed. But what I really realized too when this sort of thing came up, two things led to what I call the Driving Game in the book, which is the seed of the book, is when I realized I was approaching the fifth anniversary of Aura's death, the fifth anniversary of widowerhood, and it dawned on me one day that in those five years I hadn't even sat behind the wheel of a car once, and it seemed to me so indicative of the kind of hermetic lethargy, ennui of grief, nowhere-to-go-no-reason-to-go-anywhere kind of attitude. And I was really struggling against that, trying to break out of that, finally. And I said, You know, I've never driven in Mexico City, hardly—it terrifies me—that's gonna be my project, I'm going to learn to drive here, and I'm going to learn to drive standard, which I've never done. The inspiration: there's this book, this Borgesian, marvelous map that every taxi driver has. It's this fat, phone-book-like thing of laminated map pages that people use to find their way around Mexico City, and I thought I would use that book in a kind of Oulipo game, where I would use it like the I Ching: I would open it up to any page, put my finger down with my eyes closed, and then I would have to try and get to that spot.