DO YOU BELIEVE IN CABEZA DE VACA? by Gladys Swan

DO YOU BELIEVE IN CABEZA DE VACA?

: Stories
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Swan's third collection (Carnival for the Gods, Of Memory and Desire) offers ten stories, mostly set in the Southwest and mostly chronicling varieties of loss. In ``Venus Rising,'' one of the few pieces with a male protagonist, widower Jocoby, a stern narrow man who denied his wife any number of small pleasures, can't bring himself to get rid of her things; Swan subtly and poetically brings him round, through a series of visions of his wife and their life together, to intimations of a more natural way of being ``one might read if only he knew the language.'' In ``The Old Hotel,'' Jack Whedon, his wife Penny, and daughter Jewel live in debt in an old hotel in the desert until two boarders-one a deranged female and the other a teacher retired from France-move in. Jewel, witness to and participant in the ensuing adult complexities, comes of age: ``And she wanted to weep as though she were mourning the deaths of all she had known, something of her own death as well. And what would remain of it for her to remember?'' Swan usually earns such lyricism, though sometimes, as in the title story, about a woman who's ``always had trouble with history,'' evocative juxtapositions-here ranging from history books to pogroms and westward migrations-become a trifle cluttered. Again, though, the lyrical aphoristic finish (``All of us carried so far from the place of our origins'') is just right. Of the remaining stories, ``The Gift'' is about two sisters who travel to Yugoslavia and happen to meet a poet who knows their literature, while his own culture is a cipher to them; and ``Dreaming Crow'' uses a natural mysticism to tell about a woman with a crow that follows her everywhere. Some of these stories were published in The Kenyon Review, Colorado Review and Ohio Review. The best are superb explorations of loss.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-8262-0767-7
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Univ. of Missouri
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1991




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