THE ST. VERONICA GIG STORIES by Jack Pulaski

THE ST. VERONICA GIG STORIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pulaski's first collection brings together eight linked stories, seven of which have appeared previously in small magazines, and all of which take place among the Jews and Hispanics of New York City. Like much ethnic fiction, these literary snapshots are slight in meaning but do manage to evoke the sights and sounds of vanishing urban cultures. Most of the tales here concern Jake, a mensch from the streets of Brooklyn; his future wife, Margarita, the vivacious Latina he meets at CCNY; and their slightly bewildering relatives. Young Jackie watches his crazy but hard-working father push a merry-go-round with such frenzy that the neighborhood mothers watch in horror (""The Merry-Go-Round""); in Hebrew school, the Brooklyn boy becomes aroused as his zaftig teacher channels all her passion into lurid retellings of Biblical stories (""Religious Instruction""); and, in the lengthy ""Minnie the Moocher's Hair,"" he records his mother's descent from obsession to madness after her husband brings into their spotless home an abandoned woman with a checkered past. The finest story, ""Father of the Bride,"" finds the CCNY lit student pleading with his Puerto Rican novia's hot-tempered father for his daughter's hand in marriage--a union the latter perceives as ""a catastrophe that comes from living in a fucking cosmopolitan place."" A chilling narrative of Margarita's sexual awakening and two forgettable pieces that ""journey from one past to another"" close out this much too familiar volume. A few poignant moments, a certain slangy fluency, but not much else here.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1986
ISBN: 0939010097
Publisher: Zephyr (13 Robinson St., Somerville, MA 02145)