Klunky and unfocused—steer young readers to Jennifer Owings Dewey’s more dramatic Zozobra! The Story of Old Man Gloom, with...

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ELVIS ROMERO AND FIESTA DE SANTA FE FEATURING ZOZOBRA'S GREAT ESCAPE

A history of Santa Fe’s distinctive annual festival is packaged with old photos, bundled with an uninspired short story and unlikely to find either an adult or a child audience.

After opening with a mini-memoir addressed to adults, Lovato harks back to memories of Santa Fe in the early 1960s for a tale of two 10-year-olds who conceive a sudden sympathy for the giant puppet constructed to be ritually burnt each year during Fiesta. “Despite our heavy yoke of apprehension, we felt compelled to fight this impending crime,” young Elvis woodenly recollects. Then, having hauled “Zozobra” into hiding, the narrator guiltily confesses to a priest (“the pit in my stomach began to dissipate”), who agrees to spill the beans without naming the culprits. Following this anticlimactic episode, the author goes on to trace the Fiesta’s history from its 18th-century origins through the invention of Zozobra and the Historical/Hysterical Parade by the town’s Anglo artist’s colony in the 1920s to its modern blend of civic and religious, as well as multicultural, elements. The photos, all taken between 1911 and 1964, cover only a relatively small span of the Fiesta’s history, and, being all black and white, fail to capture the colors of the floats and costumes.

Klunky and unfocused—steer young readers to Jennifer Owings Dewey’s more dramatic Zozobra! The Story of Old Man Gloom, with photographs by Jeanie Puleston Fleming (2004). (Fact/fiction blend. 10-12, adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-89013-532-7

Page Count: 76

Publisher: Museum of New Mexico

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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More rich, satisfying food for thought from one of America’s most imaginative and accomplished novelists.

FOUR FREEDOMS

The American home front during World War II serves as metaphor for a fallen world seeking renewal in the latest from Crowley (Lord Byron’s Novel, 2005, etc.).

The action takes place in an aircraft factory in formerly oil-rich Ponca City, Okla.—and in the memories of several brilliantly realized characters. These include Dutch-American siblings Henry and Julius Van Damme, whose company has been entrusted with mass-producing America’s largest warplane; disabled plant worker Prosper Olander, whose roots lie in an unidentified northern city and a confused family history; several splendid women with whom Prosper forges close relationships; and idealistic Pancho Notzing, a self-styled philosopher who preaches a relativistic gospel embracing imperfection and diversity. In a tricky narrative that weaves in and out of the novel’s present (1942–5) and lavishly detailed flashbacks to the characters’ earlier lives, Crowley creates a fascinating microcosm: an insular, though globally inspired and involved alternative world that’s as radical an invention as the bifurcated world of his classic fantasy Little, Big (1984). The theme of an embattled idyllic America suddenly vulnerable to threats to the “four freedoms”(of speech and worship, from want and fear) enumerated in FDR’s third State of the Union address, is spelled out in the stories of Prosper’s sufferings growing up with a curved spine; his first lover Vi Harbison’s exuberant experiences as a softball pitcher; her successor Connie Wrobleski’s unhappy marriage and sexual renewal; and, just before a climactic occurrence wipes Ponca City’s slate clean, the intellectual road taken by Pancho en route to a fructifying vision of a “Harmonious City” that incarnates the ideal of full equality for all. Crowley further enriches his text with complex allusions to classical mythology and Shakespearean drama; Prosper evokes both The Tempest’s hero-sage and the wounded Fisher King whose sacrifice redeems a stricken Waste Land.

More rich, satisfying food for thought from one of America’s most imaginative and accomplished novelists.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-123150-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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NO DARK PLACE

No Dark Place ($22.00; Jun. 3; 294 pp.; 0-06-019238-0): Most medieval mysteries dip into the past, but it’s quite a fast-forward from Wolf’s sojourn in prehistoric romance (The Reindeer Hunters, 1994, etc.) to the comparatively recent 12th century, when Hugh Corbaille learns that the father he just lost may not be his father after all; Hugh may be the kidnapped heir, and the only witness to the long-ago murder, of the Earl of Wiltshire.

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-019238-0

Page Count: 294

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1999

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