This second collection from Murguía (Southern Front, 1991, not reviewed) offers nine impassioned stories of love and regrets, all grounded in an urban Latino realism. Mother love fills narrator Reymundo, in “Boy on a Wooden Horse,” who remembers himself as a six-year-old in Mexico City, his parents newly divorced and his beautiful, adored mother pursuing a career as a movie actress—a pursuit that often left him running the streets and resulted in a car crash in which she was killed. “El Ultimo Round” and “Ofrendas” continue Reymundo’s tales of the heart, now during his adulthood in San Francisco’s Mission District. The first offers a view of passion as a roller-coaster ride he can’t get enough of—even if he has to get into a bar brawl to show his love—while the second details the Mission’s raucous Day of the Dead festivities, where Reymundo grieves for a cousin who died without having written his Great Mexican Novel. “Lucky Alley” and the title story tell further tales of hard luck and flawed love: a bartender betrays his lover’s trust to invest in a scheme he thinks will please her, then loses all his money as well as his love; and a welder falls for a singer who drops him to build her career, leaving him to put together the pieces. Murguía’s romantic angles are limited, but his gritty backdrops are pure gold.