Not much story here, but the vivid characterizations and highly sensual style more than make up for it. Chavez's heroine is...


Funny, raunchy novel from the author of American Book Award–winner Face of an Angel (1994), this is about lonely women in a dusty bordertown.

Tere Ávila is a school aide at Cabritoville Elementary in New Mexico with little to do after hours but check out the same losers in the same bars and commiserate with her girlfriends, fellow members of the Pedro Infante Fan Club. In their eyes, the long-dead Mexican actor is the only real man around; they watch his movies over and over, sighing at his sensual good looks. Tere would give anything to find someone like Pedro. Her first husband didn't amount to much, and she scarcely gave him a thought after their quickie divorce. These days, she settles for fiery but ultimately unsatisfying trysts at a sleazy local motel with Lucio Valadez, the married father of a six-year-old girl. Tere feels guilty, but loneliness feels worse, and she ignores her practical friend Irma's advice to dump the guy and get on with her life. Lucio’s not all that wonderful, but he's all she's got, even if he is preoccupied with several family businesses and a little too eager to improve her, starting with her vocabulary. His gift of love: a dictionary. Much to Irma's disgust, Tere doesn't throw it at him but reads it instead. After all, didn't she study the biography of St. Teresa of Avila that Irma gave her too? But Tere is consumed with shame and regret when Lucio's little daughter sees them necking in the school parking lot. He immediately breaks off the affair, fearing his wife's wrath, and there's nothing Tere can do to change his mind. But the night is young, and her old flame, Chago, is back in town . . . she just might get lucky.

Not much story here, but the vivid characterizations and highly sensual style more than make up for it. Chavez's heroine is passionate, foolish, and wonderfully human.

Pub Date: April 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-19411-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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