by Ilan--Ed. Stavans ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 1997
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. Nuâ‚¬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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996
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