The pangs of cultural dislocation and the pressures imposed by both rural and urban poverty are central themes in this...

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NEW WORLD: Young Latino Writers

The pangs of cultural dislocation and the pressures imposed by both rural and urban poverty are central themes in this generous anthology of 23 stories by mostly unfamiliar Hispanic-American writers. The collection's general unevenness may be observed in microcosm in editor-contributor Stavans's savvy Introduction (an overview of the recent ""renaissance"" of such writing) and also in his story ""The Kiss,"" a tale of revenge that feels oddly dispassionate and detached. A few stories, conversely, feel unduly melodramatic, and several are only anecdotal (Danny Romero's ""Crime,"" Anthony Castro's rather wooden ""Soldier,"" Ysa T. Nu€ez's plaintive ""Broadway""). More successful pieces are distinguished by a language appropriate to their content (Erasmo Guerra's elegiac ""Last Words,"" told in a straightforward, perfectly credible pidgin English; Michelle M. Serros's ""The Next Big Thing,"" the unabashed confession of a rock music groupie, featuring a racy, witty, cynical voice). Among stories by newer writers, Veronica Gonzlez's ""Through the Raw Meat"" transcribes with clinical and poetic precision a dreamy girl's fixation on a handsome butcher's apprentice; Sergio Troncoso's ""Angle Luna"" expertly weaves together a boy's rediscovery of his Mexican heritage with his amazed discovery of both sex and love; and Andrew Rivera's ""A Day of the Dead,"" driven by a splendidly calculated character contrast, explores with as much tenderness as irony the emotions that disturb a teenage boy required to accompany his aging grandfather on a ""graveyard tour."" Pieces by veteran writers include Virgil Suarez's tale of spiritual possession exorcised by a neighborhood healer (""Salvation""); and Demetria Martinez Jr.'s harrowing ""Babies,"" a slice of down-and-out street life told in a blisteringly vigorous argot by its feisty lost-soul protagonist. Neither better nor worse than many recent anthologies with a similar intent--though it's unquestionably a bargain at $12.95.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1997

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delta

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996