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The down-to-earth stories in this debut collection from a Chicago Tribune columnist are pleasing, although they occasionally fail to connect to larger themes. Several of Obejas's narrators are lesbians trying to understand how relationships ought to work. In ``Wrecks'' the narrator explains that she regularly gets into car accidents when romance fades, and since her girlfriend has just left her she is preparing for a crash. The narrator of ``The Cradleland'' confides her fantasy of being ravished in a public bathroom and worries about safe sex even between lesbians since her (male) roommate and best friend is dying of AIDS. In ``Forever'' a lesbian activist trying to sort our her past (she says of her ex-lover, ``We're good lesbians: we've been painfully breaking up for two years'') subjects her current lover to ``the porch test,'' which means trying to imagine the two of them old together, sitting in a rocking chair on a porch. These are very accessible, sweet stories that, while appealing, do not have the lasting effect of the darker work here. The title story, the history of an immigrant Cuban family from the daughter's point of view, is more successful as well as more complex. Fragmented memories contain telling details, such as the summer the narrator's father finally buys a television set after insisting for years that it would be too difficult to transport one back to Cuba, and therefore symbolically accepts that they will remain in the US. ``Above All, a Family Man'' follows a dying man and his married lover as they drive from Chicago to Santa Fe. It both traces their relationship back to its origins and covers the married Rogelio's insistence that he cannot be at risk for AIDS because he is not gay. In ``Man Oh Man'' a heroin addict tells of the last time shooting up with a man named Ice who is now dead. Brings the marginalized front and center.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-939416-92-1

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Cleis

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1994

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It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

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The thirty-one stories of the late Flannery O'Connor, collected for the first time. In addition to the nineteen stories gathered in her lifetime in Everything That Rises Must Converge (1965) and A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955) there are twelve previously published here and there. Flannery O'Connor's last story, "The Geranium," is a rewritten version of the first which appears here, submitted in 1947 for her master's thesis at the State University of Iowa.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1971

ISBN: 0374515360

Page Count: 555

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1971

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