In his debut short story collection, Fierro offers windows into the often obscured world of East Los Angeles.
The characters in these stories live in a workaday area of LA, far from the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills or Hollywood. East LA is predominantly Hispanic, and the author cuts through any perceived stereotypes to convey the area's diversity. The people here are mothers and fathers of kids growing up in the city or young people finding ways to carve out their own identities while connecting with their familial and cultural heritage. In the title story, baseball serves as a conduit between generations, highlighting the differences and similarities in one family as they watch a game at home. In “Minefield,” two young men work together with their grandmother to bury a statue in remembrance of the uncle they lost and explore the past lives of their family members. Many of the themes in the stories are universal, and the writing is weighted with a sense of urgency and emotion that comes through clearly. But the author's style is, at times, voyeuristic; the reader is dropped into circumstances that take time to fully unfold and are whisked out just as abruptly. Some stories become uncomfortable and alienating, such as "Beto Ordonez," in which a young boy responds to the Challenger explosion by acting out repeatedly in class. Although the author hints at underlying issues at home and a history of such behavior, these are overwhelmed by a sense of being held at arm's length.
Beautifully written and charged with vitality, this collection plucks people from an obscure place and tells their stories.